As part of the design team, working altogether with people from the development team, me and my colleague Daniel Munday, were responsible for the needed research (requirements and data gathering), conceptualisation, testing and final design of the product. I focused specially on the conceptualisation and final design phases while giving a hand on the other ones.
We worked in a small core team of 4 people (two developers and and two designers) and that allowed us to move fast and iteratively. From a early stage on the project we worked with real-data and real-code prototypes that allowed us to keep or discard solutions much easily than if we used prototyping tools (the interaction complexity on maps is not something that could be easily tested using Invision, Flinto, Principle or similars).
We conducted 2 sessions of testing that added to the previous research done in the past. The first aimed to see how the current product performed as well as getting to talk to users about their experience when using Maps to find a new home. The second one was more towards the end and helped shape the hypothesis we were working with in our designs.
One of the main headaches we faced was showing multiples properties in the same exact location. When testing we saw that showing numbers in pins could be interpreted in very different ways (relevance, bedrooms, etc.) so we had to work out how to represent this using a different pin.
Density was another interesting one. From a technical point of view, showing more than 300 pins was not possible, so we experimented on how to show density maps both conceptually and development-wise.
To these ones we have to add the space problem when facing a map application on a mobile device as well as the theme of navigation interactions: from the rest of the site to maps and vice versa but also within the maps tool itself.
After iterating the designs with the insights from the user testing and internal design discussions I refined the design and put into view all the different states of it for the different viewports and devices. With the aim of having our design system as modular as possible, it was important for the ‘property cards’ that we were showing on the map to not differ too much from the ones in search results and other instances of the same module, despite their smaller size.
We know that when changing products and features that have been adopted by many users during extended periods of time there is going to be a notable rejection. Therefore it was important to understand what people thought about the new Maps and so we came up with a feedback bar that would try to capture positive and negative reactions both from a qualitative and a quantitative point of view. Users were able to give feedback with one single click and expand on it if they wished to, that increased the chances of giving voice to positive reactions.
If you want to know more about the project, Daniel and myself wrote this Medium article you may find interesting.See it live