With this blog assignment, we were asked to create a sketch of a concept for Google Maps that we feel could overall better a problem in the application as a whole. The main problem that was identified by our group was the fact that Google Maps as a whole has several additional features that are available, but are not made easy to see or access. With my design sketch, I found a way that I feel will make some of these additional features, like that of “Directions” and “Street View” easier to find by the user and also will improve the overall feel of the interface of the site as a whole. Posted below is my mock design.
Here is a link to the full size image: http://img392.imageshack.us/img392/4695/googlemapscustomizedcs5.jpg
With my sketch, I feel that the overall interface of the website is improved and easier to use for the user. I added arrows to point to the main changes I would make to the original Google Maps interface. The blue arrow refers to the current link to the “Get Directions” feature that Google Maps offers. I feel that in its current location and current styling, it is easily overlooked. This is a feature that if Google Maps wants to content with places like MapQuest in the directions area, they need this feature to be highly visible and advertised. I feel that this is one of the main reasons why Google Maps isn’t recognized for its directions services. The green arrow is how I would implement a new and improved directions feature. This is much easier for the user to see, as well as easy to use and functional. The user only has to input their start and end locations, and Google Maps can do the rest. It will also give the same functionality as the normal mapping options, where if they do not know the exact address, Google will do a search query and give addresses for the location. Below the green arrow is a button for “Explore Additional Features.” This is where Google can implement its new features, and will give one central location for the user to see all of the features available in Google Maps, instead of browsing blindly clicking through various links. The red arrow shows an option for users to customize Google Maps. This could range from options like implementing a way to choose a default view (Street, Traffic, etc.) to allowing for the option of a default starting location (ex: Home). There are several features that could be made to make the user experience overall for the Google Maps user better overall.
I covered how my solution approaches the specified in more detail in the last paragraph, but in terms of how Google Maps should approach the problem can be explained here. They need to find a way to keep their user interface sleek like their search engine, but also find a way to show all of the available features and make them easy to use for the user. I feel that a way similar to how I sketched out could address the best of both worlds, in terms of keeping the simple Google interface that it has been known for, but also making the user experience as a whole better and allowing the user to find features more efficiently.
I went about solving my problem in this fashion because I feel that it would be very difficult to do a complete site overhaul for Google Maps. I think that with simple additions that fit the typical Google design, it wouldn’t be a drastic change in terms of design, but would implement several necessary features that would make the user experience on the site quite a bit better overall.