The Project Theory
Through the global progression of urbanisation and populational growth more and more people live in cities. Next, to this trend, the number of autonomous cars will rise in the future. There will be a shift from a heteronomous vehicle navigation use case towards a navigation concept addressing pedestrian needs. Rather than taking place inside the car, this process will transform to urban navigation by foot. Common navigation applications do barely make the grade to the special pedestrian user needs. With our concept, we want to address and improve everyday life situations in urban spaces and show a possible solution how to integrate this inside Google Maps.
Before we start - a huge callout to all the amazing projects which take part in the endeavour of making navigation a more human-centered process.
We hope that our case study can contribute to this development with a possible approach to combine and implement those innovative ideas with the current stable built of Google Maps. (03.15.2017)
An additional special thanks to the companies providing public data and helpful tools to make this project possible.
The way we approach things
To create convincing solutions we follow a specific iterative design-thinking process. This process helps to build up a decent workflow for designing user experience based projects. Design thinking
itself is an ideology. It asserts that a user-centred approach to problem-solving can lead to innovation. This innovation can lead to a competitive advantage. To achieve this innovation a design-thinking framework consisting of
five distinct phases is needed.
The basic pattern of pedestrian navigation
If you want to understand and improve the way pedestrians move and navigate in urban spaces you have to deconstruct the navigation process into different steps. By deconstructing the process into separate parts we
understood that there are actually three main phases.
Phase one is all about the personal history of a user and his individual movement behaviour. Where has the user already been? Are there any unknown locations or places in his or her urban environment?
Phase two covers the actual navigation process itself. It consists of four steps in total. Start of navigation process, route definition, navigation to destination and arrival at destination. In this phase, the user asks himself where he wants to go and how he wants to get there.
Phase three tries to motivate the user in exploring his environment further and provides possible suggestions according to his interest. In the following, we want to provide possible solutions to the special user needs and a deeper insight into those phases.
Each of the six steps provides a variation of user pains which were examined through interviews and testing. Thereby we gained insights which we used to generate a number of possible solutions for each step. The main focus
hereby were steps two and three: Start of the navigation process and the route definition. Those concepts target the idea of alternative route calculation models which led to a change in the UI and flow optimization.
Easy Route: Improve accessibility, Consider route properties, Improve orientation Restful Route: Avoid crowded places, Avoid high sound levels, Guide through greenspaces + Places Route: Points of interest, Places worth seeing, Vibrant places.
Especially in big cities, it’s easy spending months living in one place - just to realize afterwards you spent most of your time in the same areas. Those often work or home related and you realize you actually haven't seen much of the city at all. A visual representation of the user's moving pattern as an overlay on the map can be toggled via the layer menu. All streets, areas and blocks the user has been to are getting tinted in a semi-transparent blue within a certain radius around him.
We analyzed the steps a user has to take to get a route proposal and optimized the usage for the pedestrian. Especially on the go or in a stressful situation, this helps the user to get to his destination faster and less occupied by the navigation tool.
The concept was to translate the landmarks from the users surrounding into the digital by extruding existing 3D models of buildings or ground plots so it helps the user to put them into context. This way of leading the user through urban spaces, roots in the fundamental concept of humans communicating and describing directions to each other. Asking someone for direction almost always results in stringing together landmarks on the route to the destination.
By highlighting the street number you are looking for and giving context through the surrounding numbers, the user's search for the right building is simplified. To highlight the streets closest to the destination helps the user to narrow down the position where his specific number is to find his location on the route.
To make those hidden functions more accessible a small dotted menu is shown instead of the location button once the map is centred to the user's position. Additionally, the menu transitions from the floating button to the bottom tab-bar when the map is not centred. Furthermore, we added estimated time to destination indicators to every POI displayed. This way the user can easily evaluate if a place is too far away or in a reasonable timeframe.
As the continuing development process of Google Maps shows, the application tries to adapt to those needs and is in a constant state of change. During our project period, we discovered that new features found their way into Google Maps on a regular basis to improve its overall user experience. As a result, Google Maps is already shifting to a more human-centred application and becomes more and more a map of places rather than a map for streets.