Google Maps currently shows some information for parking, but after conducting research, I found that having more detailed parking information is something that users can benefit from. 

I made it easier to find parking near the user's desired destination by adding parking options to the destination page, and by displaying walking distances and prices when exploring the options shown on that page. 

I also added more filters for parking, added prices to map pins, added more details on pages for parking locations, and created a system to reserve parking at participating locations.

4 weeks at 20 hours/ week

My Role
End-to-end UX researcher and UX/UI designer

This project was done for my bootcamp at DesignLab. I did not work with Google Maps.
Interviews to understand user needs
After choosing to add a feature to Google Maps for this project, I did some initial research by conducting interviews to find out what could be helpful for people to have. 

I asked about:
    • What they use Google Maps for
    • How they go about planning trips
    • What they like to know before going somewhere
    • What they wish they could do on Google Maps

One of the things I found is that the people I interviewed like to know their parking options ahead of time. I personally like to know as much information about parking as possible before going somewhere, and I remembered seeing a Tik Tok about this recently. 

This brought me to conduct some secondary research on Tik Tok.

Secondary research to validate parking feature idea
Seeing the number of people on Tik Tok expressing their frustrations about not knowing the parking situation when they go somewhere confirmed to me that Google Maps showing more detailed parking information is something that people would be interested in. Reading the comments helped me understand what people are thinking and how they deal with this issue. 

Interviews to gain insights about parking habits and desires
After narrowing in on parking as my new feature for Google Maps, I conducted another round of interviews to get deeper insights specifically related to parking. 
I asked participants about:
    • Parking information they would like to know in advance
    • How they currently go about finding the parking information they want
    • What they take into consideration when choosing where to park
    • What makes a parking experience pleasant or unpleasant
The answers to these interviews helped me understand which parts of the parking process are stressful or frustrating. Knowing these specific parts provided me with a focus to work on improving. 

Competitive analysis for generating feature ideas
To get insight on how some of these problems are already being solved, I looked at competing navigation apps as well as parking apps to see what features they offer for parking. This helped me determine features that could be helpful to include.  
After gaining an understanding of what people like to know about parking in advance, the next step was to define the goals and create a plan for my design.

Persona to visualize users and their needs 
I started the define stage by defining the user. Having a persona to reference helped me remember the goal I wanted to accomplish, which was to make parking easier for users and prevent stress. 

Project goals to stay on track
I then defined the goals for both users and Google Maps. Having these goals laid out helped in creating a design that would end up being useful for both Google and its users. 

Task flow to define and visualize main task
Next, I started thinking about specific features to add. I defined the main task for this project as finding a place to park and setting directions to it, with two main ways to do it. I created a task flow displaying the main steps in this process.

User flow to understand user decisions and paths
I used my task flow to create a user flow, showing the different paths a user could take to complete the journey. This helped me design a solution that would be functional and effective.

Sitemap laying out pages and features to include
Having the user flow completed helped me figure out what pages were needed in order to add the parking information. I created a sitemap showing the pages and features relevant to the parking information I wanted to add, and how it would be organized within the app.
Once I knew what I wanted to include and how the flow would work, I was ready to start designing.
Wireframes to lay out added features 
I started the design process by doing some quick sketches of what I wanted the features to look like and how I wanted everything arranged. Since I was adding to an existing product, I did not sketch everything out. I wrote notes for the parts I didn't sketch, and went straight to designing those parts digitally. 
User Interface for users to find and reserve parking
After sketching my ideas on paper, I went to Figma to add my features to screenshots I took of the Google Maps app. I designed in high-fidelity from the beginning so I could fully envision my features as part of the app and make sure they worked well with it. I also wanted my additions to be consistent with the app for usability testing to minimize confusion and make everything look like it belongs. I was not able to access the exact font used in Google Maps, but I found one that is very similar. 
After I started designing the screens I planned, I decided to add on to the parking functionalities by designing a reservation system. Some of the parking apps I looked at have this as their main function, and I thought it could be helpful for those users who like having every detail planned in advance. As supported by my research, many people dislike having to aimlessly drive around trying to find an empty parking spot, so being able to reserve a spot in advance can help prevent this. 

Changes I made from what Google Maps currently offers:​​​​​​​
Prototype to make designs interactive
After I finished designing, I conducted usability testing to assess my designs. The first step in testing was creating a prototype. I designed the additional screens needed to add the interactivity, and then put the prototype together using Figma.
Usability Testing to identify user difficulties
I was then able to conduct my usability test. I had 3 in-person participants, and had 5 people complete the test on Maze. 

The 2 tasks were:
    • Find the least expensive parking near the Renwick Gallery and reserve a parking spot
    • Find the closest parking to the Renwick Gallery

I was interested in: 
     • Seeing where people would click first since there are multiple ways to get to the page for the parking place
     • Thoughts on the reservation process, filters, and information shown on the pages for parking

I then asked some questions about the choices participants made, as well as their thoughts on the overall experience. 

I created an affinity map summarizing the results:
After assessing the results of the usability test, I determined the main changes to focus on. These changes are reflected in the UI images above. 

Below are the main difficulties encountered and the corresponding changes I made:

After making the changes, I did a second round of usability testing to assess the changes. I had 5 participants on Maze.

    • Time spent finding reserve button decreased from 15.37 seconds to 6.63 seconds
    • Sort button was used by multiple participants after adding it
    • Much fewer difficulties were noted

I was not able to conclude whether or not the parking cards were more noticeable in the second round. No one mentioned not seeing them at first this time, but everyone chose to filter and sort first. 
Next steps
Although there were fewer suggestions from the second round of usability testing, there were a few that were made:
"I was confused that I had to pick options for both price per hour and price per day only to find out later down the page that only one of them would be displayed. "

"It would be nice to see a display of the parking spaces (all the spaces, not just the one I chose) on the map while I change the settings for the reservation. This will be helpful because I can see how the availability change in real time as I change the settings. "

"I think it's difficult for users to scroll all the way down to find a parking slot and they won't realized there are parking features incorporated on the google map. Maybe make it obvious would help?"
If I had more time to work on this project, I would try to address these concerns to continue to improve the product. I would also like to explore options for adding the reservation to Apple Wallet. I'm glad that I was able to create a feature that could potentially save people time and alleviate stress. I hope Google Maps implements something like this in the future.

Additional work

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