Navigate for Google Maps

Product Design / Interaction Design / Service Design


Creating a driver-centered navigation app that minimizes distraction while driving while providing the driver with key navigation and safety insights.


Focus on features that are discoverable to drivers with absolute minimal interference while driving, keeping their eyes focused on the road instead of their smartphone.

1 The intent of this project was to design a driver-centric navigation application that emphasizes safety. In order to do this we identified four main project goals that would help us ensure the application being build would be useful and provide value that existing map and navigation apps do not provide. Our goals for this project included:

  • Identify navigation application user pain points
  • Determine the most useful features related to driving
  • Develop an interface that gives the driver instant indication of the direction in which to go
  • Evaluate if users want the option of saved preferences
  • 2 We began this project with a competitive review of three applications that we found to be the most popular choices for Android users: Google Maps, Waze, and HERE. These three apps were chosen for a variety of reasons, including popularity, variety of features, and perception in the marketplace. Each application was reviewed using three categories of attributes:

  • Features directly related to driving
  • Features indirectly related to driving
  • Navigation screen experience
  • 3 Because one of our intentions with this project was to reduce distraction while driving, we additionally conducted a academic literature review and found nine studies regarding the use of smartphone navigation applications while driving. For each article reviewed we identified a main goal of the research and whether or not the study concluded that smartphone usage contributed to driver distraction.

    4 We performed a contextual inquiry, which sought to understand participant behavior when using their preferred navigation app.

    5 A user survey was developed to gather additional user research on navigation application of choice, feature utilization, user satisfaction with the applications, and specific pain points they may have experienced.

    6 Based upon our contextual inquiry result, we created a conceptual design map to visualize the conceptual flow users would take through the application. The map shows relationships between elements while a user is driving to a destination. The map also shows the interactions that will be supported by the application features.

    7 To aid in visualizing our early design ideas and validate them against user expectations, we built a paper prototype based on our learning from our contextual inquiry and user research survey. Once we established the goal of each user flow, we sketched some initial screens based on the the journeys we expected users to take through the app. We presented these initial screens to participants to determine if our anticipations of the users' journey were true, and that the screens contained the information the users needed to accomplish the goals of the app.

    8 Using feedback from the paper prototype test, we created a high-fidelity prototype that was designed using Axure use in a final usability test. The prototype has three pages to represent the three different entry points users could take: home screen entry to open as an independent app, navigation view when entering from a Google Maps view, and notification entry for finding a parked car. The prototype focused on the two main application features: finding parking and walking directions to a parked car. Since our app is based on the Google Maps and Android platforms, we followed Android Material design guidelines. We felt that using the standard Material design framework would provide better usability for existing Android users and minimize the need to adjust to a new design language when learning to use the application.

    View full prototype

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