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.
Role: Experience Designer
Duration: 7 months
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!