Josh Peters

Bing Maps

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.

Client: Microsoft

Role: Experience Designer

Duration: 7 months

During this project, I was responsible for all feature defintion, visualization and design deliverables. I worked closely with the engineering team as we started to build the alpha product, reviewing and approving features as they were finished. I also created documentation defining the initial elements of the design system and proposed behaviors of the system at large.

In 2019, the visual design has drastically improved, but my work on the core interaction model remains.

Where they were at?

Within the team they had various maps initiatives, including Maps for Windows 8. The browser engineering team was ready to work but didn't quite have direction on where to go or how to get there. My initial 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 laid the foundation) to become a competitive alternative to Google Maps focused on trip planning and being able to view multiple queries in the same view for comparison.

I was the sole designer on the team reporting to a design manager, that was leveraged for consultation, feedback and approval. I worked with multiple excellent project managers and collaborated with a talented engineering team to sweat the intitial details as we built the alpha release.

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

What challenges did we work through?

At the start of my contract, the definition of what should be done with product was unclear. Initially I was tasked with enhancing Collections in the existing version, but it quickly became apparent that this was a dead-end. Working with the design managers, we decided that we should refocus the work utilizing some guiding principles around trip planning. This solved the impetus for the work, but didn't resolve how it should be approached.

Within the organization, there was very little in the way of readily available data to gleam user insights based on usage statistics. With not being able to obtain that data to analyze, I started to comb through the Microsoft product feedback group to look for user pain points that I could derive requirements from. This informed approaches and feature definition as we optimized for trip planning.

This seems odd as I'm sure you're thinking by now.

Despite having an existing application and history, this project really functioned more like a startup, but with a eye more to justifying a significant upgrade to Microsoft's lagging mapping technology. Nothing about this was conventional, but despite the skunkworks feel, the work I completed in 7 months significantly impacted the project and was fully realized after my departure.

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!

(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.


Basic wireframe flows describing driving direction actions

Bowflex Max Trainer Workout

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

Bing Maps Early Interaction Model

In this early static flow, a user is adding multiple queries and viewing them within the same context. Following the conception of this, I partnered with another contractor to build a prototype that was utilized for usability testing

Bing Maps 2015

This screen shows the initial launch of this interaction model in 2015, after I had left the project

Bing Maps 2019

Bing Maps 2019 - Search detail view

Bing Maps Documentation

Views from functional specification documentation