We all have the same problem: we can’t find the information we need in Google Maps. It’s frustrating. So if you’re looking for a way to make Google Maps easier to use or improve it in some other way, here are some ideas:
Brainstorm possible ideas
Now that you’ve identified your main problem, it’s time to brainstorm possible solutions.
- List all the ideas that come to mind. You can do this by writing them down or making a list of pros and cons for each idea. Then compare these lists and see which ones seem more promising than others.
- Brainstorm possible Google Maps improvements (e.g., new features, bug fixes). Think about what kind of changes have been requested in the past—and whether other teams within Google Maps have addressed those requests!
- Consider the importance of an idea. Is it a top priority, or could you do without it? If it’s a top priority, you should prioritize it over all others.
- Consider the cost of implementing an idea. How much money would it take to implement each idea? Is there someone else who can help with this project so that one person isn’t required to do everything themselves and save money in the process?
- Consider how much impact each idea will have on Google Maps users (or potential users). Does your suggestion improve usability by improving navigation or user experience overall? Does your suggestion improve search results for specific queries like restaurants nearby or public transportation options nearby?
Here is the six-step approach for the interview question.
1. Describe Google Maps
Google Maps allows users to go from Point A to Point B efficiently and provides several commute options such as driving, walking, public transport, and ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. User also uses Google Maps to search for nearby places such as restaurants, gas stations, events, and things to do.
2. Ask Clarifying Questions from the Interviewer
- Is the goal to improve the entire platform or a specific feature?
- Is the improvement channel specific – Web or Mobile?
- What’s the objective of improvement? – engagement, increase in revenue, acquisition. Etc.
3. Layout the Approach
Once the Interviewer provides clarification to the above question, start by first laying out the approach,
(a) start by understanding who are users (personas) of Google Maps are,
(b) Pick one persona and their goals or motivations when using Google Maps.
(c) Then identify pain points (user needs) and suggest new features/ solutions to increase customer satisfaction leading to better customer engagement
(d) next, prioritize new features based on cost vs. benefit,
(e) Lastly, summarize the overall analysis
4. Users of Google Maps
- Private vehicle owners
- Commuters using public transport
- People who use ride-sharing apps like Uber, Lyft, etc.
5. Choose a Target Group
Considering the above pain points mentioned, here are a few feature/ use cases that Google Maps can offer to delight the commuters
Use public transport such as trains, buses, and subways to pick up commuters to go from point A to point B. Commuters hate when there is an interruption in services, which could be because of trains running late, significant breakdowns, or changes in train timing and route. People don’t like waiting, even if the train or bus is a few minutes late. Also, not all train and bus stations have the same amenities, such as access to elevators, public bathrooms, and information booths. Commuters such as older people, families traveling with infants, and physically challenged people need this information in advance to plan their trip efficiently.
6. Recommendations for new features
Personalized real-time notification to commuters when there is an interruption in the service (this is especially useful to people commuting daily from home to office and back). Google knows some vital information about the commuter, like when they start from home, from which station they take the train, and when they head back home. Tech Team can use this information to send real-time train or bus service alerts to commuters so that they can prepare in advance and may look for alternate routes or modes of transportation.
Book Uber/ Lyft for commuters to the nearest alternate train/bus station so they can reach their destination on time.
Train/bus station information catalog showing all amenities and contact information. The record should be updated regularly so that commuters know the change. Say the elevator at station X is going through periodic maintenance.
Use a collaboration platform that will categorize stations based on people’s input on incidents such as the number of thefts, people falling on track, getting stuck between trains and platforms, or even broken machines. Such a feature will make people self-aware and tell them to ride safely.
Now, prioritize the solutions based on the user goal and the development complexity. The user’s goal is to reach from point A to point B efficiently with the most up-to-date information.
|Solution||Impact on User Goal||Complexity|
|Personalized real-time notification||High: prompt and timely notification about delays or service changes will allow commuters to look for a backup plan. They may opt to work remotely on that day. Also, providing targeted notification is more valuable to the user.||Medium: Google maps already capture information like trains running late and where the congestion is.|
|Book Lyft/Uber for commuter||Low: not all commuters have the same affordability level; they may find Lyft/Uber an expensive option. Also, not everyone has an Uber/ Lyft account. This may serve just a subset of the overall commuter population.||Low: Google Maps already shows ride-sharing options to users when they search for routes.|
|Information catalog||High: having up-to-date information about the station will help commuter plan their trip||Medium: easy to develop initially but requires ongoing maintenance to ensure that information is up to date and accurate.|
|Train/Bus station rating||High: getting reviews from other commuters increases trust.||High: will require developing a collaborative feature in Google Maps that will allow other commuters to update and provide information such as how many ticket vending machines are working, which machine is not accepting cash, etc.|
From the table, the two features that provide the highest impact for the lowest effort are
(a) personalized real-time notification and
(b) information catalog.
Your recommendation should be to start with these two solutions while also brainstorming on building collaborative features within Google Maps. These features will change how people see and use Google Maps today.
Bonus Tips: Be specific and accurate, and do your research
You can’t just say “I would do this” without explaining why. If you’ve done any research, it’s because you’re looking for a solution to a problem others have faced; if not, try to find the closest analogy and build off it.
- Be honest with yourself: What do you know about this topic? How much experience do you have in solving problems like these? For example, would your solution still be viable if there were no roadmaps or other guidelines available when developing Google Maps 2.0 (and there weren’t)? It may not be perfect—but does it at least make sense as an initial attempt at creating something new and different from what came before?
To conclude, brainstorming is the process of generating ideas. You can do this by thinking about any topic (and remember that even something as simple as a joke can spark new ideas). Your goal is to think about every possible angle of your idea and then prioritize which ones are most important to you. Next, please choose one or two of the best options from your list and write them down on paper or post them somewhere visible so everyone knows what they are discussing! Finally, present all ideas at once with confidence, knowing that many people will be interested in their unique perspective on maps.
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