Google Maps

Discovered ways to improve Google Maps via various usability tests.

Google Maps Desktop - Usability Tests Hero


Google Maps is a well-established product that assists people with navigation. As part of my Usability Evaluation course, 3 evaluation methods were used to test and identify areas that work and need improvement. The findings were then analyzed to suggest ways to improve Maps.

Role & Responsibilities

Heuristic evaluation, Task construction, Conducting Usability Tests, Assist recording metrics

Team: 3 Designers (1 Moderator, and 1 to log Qualitative & Quantitative metrics respectively)

Feb 2018

Problem Statement

College students heavily rely upon navigation to get to places such as campus and work. The purpose of these tests is evaluate the usability of the Google Maps website and see how helpful it is for college students.

Users & Audience

Scopes & Constraints

For this project, the testing was limited to the Google Maps website. The tests were focused around using the website, how it helps find locations and use navigation.


We first started with heuristic evaluation to quickly assess the interface and identify where the usability issues were. We used the findings from here to create a task booklet that was then used for first, face-to-face and then remote usability tests.

In the end, the results were compiled to identify what Google Maps does well and needs improvement on.

Heuristic Evaluation

  • Reviewed website using ISO 9241 principles
  • Identified issues and assigned severity ratings
  • Aided in creating task booklet

User Testing

The testing was conducted by one Moderator and two Observers, to log quantitative and qualitative data respectively.

Duration: 30 minutes per participant.

Task Booklet

Face-to-Face Testing – Quantitative Logs

Remote Testing – Quantitative Logs


Problems Discovered

What Works

Most participants found the left-search pane most useful. Tasks involving this pane took them the least time and effort to complete.

Search Bar

Route Filters

Recent Searches

Reverse Origin & Destination


Tips and Tricks

Needs more prominence and a descriptive name. Display a short list of most common “How do I…” help topics right in the sidebar.

Platform Consistency

Design for consistency between browser and mobile versions. The mobile version is more widely used and hence the browser version’s design could borrow from mobile to increase familiarity.

Street View

There are various ways to access this feature which could be made consistent and more accessible. When viewing a location, giving more focus on Street View could increase its discoverability.

Travel via multiple transport options

Currently, Google Maps allows us to navigate from a start to end point via a single transport mode. However, people often times take multiple modes of transport to reach their location and could factor this into navigation.

Learning & Key Takeaways

  • Differences between desktop and mobile versions cause friction
  • Each user learned something new about the interface
  • Google Maps is in a very usable state but there are opportunities to improve

Heuristic Evaluation

  • Helped better understand the product
  • Gives an early direction on where to focus on
  • Aided in task construction to test our findings

Face-to-Face Testing

  • Participants could feel pressured to complete tasks and hesitant to freely express opinions
  • Non-verbal cues could easily be deciphered since participant is in-person
  • Moderator’s ability to establish trust and comfort directly affects a participant’s performance

Remote Testing

  • Harder to engage participants in active communication
  • Participants are in a more comfortable environment - express opinions more freely