Josh Peters

Bing Maps

Client: Microsoft

Role: Experience Designer

Duration: 7 months

Since the last major revision in 2009, Bing Maps had seen little visual or functional improvement. While useful for basic searches, the existing experience had not kept pace with their primary competitor, Google. I led the initial discovery and definition to design and deliver an entirely new experience that would make Bing Maps as viable competitor once again.

Where they were at?

Within the team they had various maps initiatives, including Maps for Windows 8. The desktop version was working toward improvements but didn't quite have direction on where to go or how to get there. My intial work looked to augment the existing platform, but quickly led down the path of a wholesale redesign and upgrade to the entire site.

What did we do?

We rebuilt Bing Maps (or started to) to become a usable alternative to Google Maps focused on trip planning and being able to view multiple queries in the same view for comparison.

My Role:User Research, Interaction Design, Visual Design
Deliverables:Wireframes, Prototypes, Visual Concepts, Visual Assets

How did it turn out?

About 1.5 years after my contract there, the product shipped. It was a really gigantic effort in modernizing the platform to even do simple things. It has continued to evolved, but the interaction model I conceived is still at the heart of the product. Yay!

Overview

To kickstart our definition process I began evaluating our core competitors offerings for comparable features or lack thereof and gathered all the data and feedback accessible to start understanding our core users. While we had basic feature parity with most, our product didn't really have anything distinct to offer. Why did our users use us versus Google or MapQuest? It was something we didn't have the answer to.

It would be easy enough to update the look and feel in direct response to our competitors, but how could we move forward to create a richer experience that aligned to our user needs? I started going through our feedback and feature requests from user and a common thread started to emerge.

Maps are a resource for trip planning. Whether one is at an amusement park, mall or out on the road, viewing places in relation to each other helps us determine how to navigate effectively and plan the best course. This wasn't something you could do effectively in Bing Maps or our competitors.

I investigated multiple paths which started much simpler, but grew quickly into what ultimately would become our new working paradigm. The video below communicates the evolution of the interaction model and my primary contribution.

(video) - A short introduction to the previous and new search model.

Early Comps

Early work included building around travel narratives and building an enhanced ability to save places to collections.

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Evolution of the early card interaction ideas (first two columns) and the 2015 release with final visuals (third column)

Results

As a contractor on the project, I wasn't able to carry on to release, but was happy to see that about 1.5 years later, a fully-realized release shipped to customers.

What I did see was the results of the work on the card interaction model persist into the first release and subequently be modified through 2019 with secondary ideas that I conceived while on the team. The following examples I can't take credit for, but including for perspective.

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Bing Maps 2015 - Multiple queries

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Bing Maps 2019 - Single search

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Bing Maps 2019 - Search detail view