+9 votes
asked in Product Improvement by (1.2k points) | 7.1k views

6 Answers

+9 votes

Here is my approach to this product manager job interview question. 

  1. Describe Google Maps - Google Maps allows user to go from Point A to Point B efficiently and provides several commute options such as driving, walking, public transport, and even like to ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft. User also uses Google Maps to search nearby places such as restaurants, gas stations, events, and things to do. 
  2. Ask Clarifying Questions from the Interviewer - 
    1. Is the goal to improve the entire platform or a specific feature?
    2. Is the improvement channel specific - Web or Mobile?
    3. What's the objective of improvement? - engagement, increase in revenue, acquisition. etc.
  3. Once interviewer provides clarification to above question, I would start by first laying out the approach I am going to take to (a) start by understanding who are users (personas) of Google Maps are, (b) Pick one persona and what their goals or motivations are when using Google Maps. (c) Then I will identify pain points (user needs) and suggest new features/ solutions to increase customer satisfaction leading to better customer engagement (d) next, I will prioritize new features based on cost vs benefit, (e) Lastly I will summarize the overall analysis
  4. Users of Google Maps
    1. Private vehicle owners
    2. Bikers
    3. Commuters using public transport
    4. Walkers
    5. Tourists
    6. People using ride sharing app like Uber, Lyft etc.
  5. I am going to pick commuters using public transport such as train, bus, subways to go from point A to point B. Commuters hate when there is interruption is services that could be because of trains running late, major breakdown, change in train timing and route. People don't like waiting even if the train or bus is late by couple of minutes. Also not all train and bus stations are same when it comes to amenities such as access to elevators, public bathrooms, and information booth. Commuters such as old age people, family traveling with infants, and physically challenged people need these information in advance to plan their trip efficiently.
  6. Considering the above pain points that I just mentioned, here are few feature/ use cases that Google Maps can offer to delight the commuters
    1. Personalized real-time notification to commuter when there is interruption in the service (this is especially useful to people commuting daily say from home to office and back). Google knows some very vital information about the commuter like at what time they start from home, from which station they take train, what time they head back home. These information can be used to send real-time train/bus service alert to commuter, so that they can prepare in advance, say may look for alternate route of mode of transportation. 
    2. Book uber/ lyft for commuter, to the nearest alternate train/bus station, so that they can reach their destination on-time.
    3. Train/ bus station information catalog showing all amenities and contact information. The catalog should get updated on regular interval,. So that commuter is aware of the change say elevator at station X is going through periodic maintenance
    4. Collaboration platform that will categorize station based on people input on incidents such as number of theft, people fallen on track, people got stuck in between train and platform, or even broken machine. This will make people self-aware and will tell them to ride safe.        
  7. Now, I will prioritize the solutions across the user goal and complexity of development. The user's goals is to reach from point A to point B efficiently with most up to date information. 


Impact to User Goal


Personalized real-time notification

High: prompt and timely notification about delay or change in service will allow commuter to look for backup plan. They may opt to work remotely on that day. Also providing targeted notification is more valuable to user

Medium: Google maps already capture information like train running late, where the congestion is.

Book Lyft/Uber for commuter

Low: not all commuter have same affordability level, they may find Lyft/Uber expensive option.  Also not everyone has Uber/ Lyft account.  This may serve just a subset of overall commuter population

Low: Google Maps already shows ride sharing option to user when they search for route.

Information catalog

High: having up to date information about the station will help commuter plan their trip

Medium: easy to develop initially but require ongoing maintenance to make sure that information is up to date and accurate.

Train/Bus station rating

High: getting review from other commuter increases trust.

High: will require developing collaborate feature in Google Maps that will allow other commuters to update and provide information such as how many ticket vending machine are working, which machine is not accepting cash, etc.

  1. From the table, the two features that provide the highest impact for the lowest effort are (a) personalized real-time notification and (b) Information catalog. My recommendation would to start with these two solutions while also start brainstorming on building collaborative feature with in Google Maps as this will definitely change the way people see and use Google Maps today.
answered by (69 points)
I really like the structure and how you have come up with a solution... i have comment that Google is already giving personalized realtime notifications... you enter point a to point b.. it is already giving best train or bus suited foe me to take a ride... Maybe in some geographies in is not showing this because public transport is not yet evolved where they can provide such data to Google....
+5 votes

To answer this question, first I would like to select a particular user group to build this feature with. One of the groups that use the Google Maps app are people that are deriving to new places with their cars. One of the challenges they face after they get to their destination is they need to find a parking place to park their cars. This is a big problem because they usually end up driving around the destination for a while to find a parking spot that’s affordable and is close to the destination. Currently, they have to visit every single parking lot with their car to evaluate location and pricing before making a decision. This is a big problem and costs the user a lot of time and money.

Google Maps can enable a new search function (call it “find paid parking”) that searches for paid parking lots around the destination and provides list of parking locations along with pricing for each unit. This helps users find more affordable parking and find parking faster.

One of the questions that the Google interviewer might ask would be: “how do you think Google can obtain info regarding location of the parking lots and their pricing.” My answer would be “Google can enable business owners to add their parking lots to google maps and also allow users to report existence of a Parking Map”. In addition, Google can use AI / image recognition and leverage Google Street View to determine location of parking lots in each neighbourhood. To determine pricing, google can leverage Android Pay data to get estimate on the cost of the parking lot and present ranges. Users / businesses / AI from Google Street View can also provide data around the actual price of parking in each parking lot.

In addition, if a parking lot’s price varies frequently and is difficult to predict, Google can explain to the client that the price by this location changes depending on the occasion and is not accurately predictable.

answered by (26 points)
+1 vote

Google maps is used by people to get from point A to point B. Users include people walking, driving, biking, using public transit, and taking a lyft/uber. these users use google maps to also check hours of operations of a store, check gas prices of nearby gas stations, and to get the best route given driving conditions.
If I wanted to improve usage for users on the go, meaning users who are using google maps on their mobile, then I’d look at improving engagement of mobile users. Let’s say I’m focusing on improving engagement of biking users.

Bikers don’t like biking in areas crowded with people, they don’t like biking up steep hills, narrow roads are a little more dangerous, and they generally prefer biking in a bike lane. Not everyone owns a bike. Not everyone is an expert biker, some people feel more nervous biking than others.

Some suggestions that could alleviate these pain points include:

A) Indicating to customers which routes would be the least to the most amount of effort (based on time and elevation gain/loss variability)
B) Provide the user the option to stay on bike lanes as much as possible, or opt out!
C) provide the users the option to see which roads are the most crowded, and have the option to avoid those.
D) when users start route, allow them to quickly see the nearest bike station if the user needs to rent a bike (little bubble on the top right)

Which solution is most viable? Well option A) would impact user experience, and for users who’s main mean of transportation is biking would most likely use this option more (san francisco hills!), implementation would require some work, but elevation information is something google maps already has and could leverage. B) Should be relatively easy to implement (and may already be), but in teams of value to the customer, may be limited value add. C) would be a little harder to implement, and would require data from people actively using google maps to get around walking/driving in order to populate that data, but would bring a lot of value to the customer. D) This would be easy to implement and would just leverage already existing data. In terms of value, it would just reduce the amount of time the user spends switching from driving/walking mode to search for a bike station to bike mode, to just having it all happen in the same trip.

Based on this general analysis, I’d go with option A first, and to measure engagement, we can look at how often that feature is being used, if they’re used by the same people, and how long users spend looking at the route options before starting route, how many users don’t start a route using the feature and switch to a different mode of transportation, are there any seasonal trends, etc…

answered by (15 points)
Hi ML,
Thanks for the answer. I like this answer. You have a couple creative solutions that are really useful to the end user. Thanks for posting.
Love the example, I like to ride with my boys and bike along all known trails- so Google sharing the trail map from point A to point B- will make my ride safe-  I am okay to use normal routes so the above information would be helpful as well.
0 votes

One way I’d like to improve it would be to add new route options that let you combine transport methods to minimize time or cost.

For example if I have a bike then determine the best route to leverage my bike and public transport. Another scenario could be pubic transport plus Uber for the last bit.

Of course there prudent thing to do before making these changes would be to determine how many people would benefit from this feature but as a user that is something personally I’d like to build

answered by (504 points)
This solution is not that good for a couple reasons:
– it doesn’t use the CIRCLES method to describe the user persona and their needs before giving solutions
– I believe the solution proposed is already implemented and is not innovative
I agree with Jeff. You want to provide more detail around your answer to help the interviewer see your thought process.
0 votes

I am assuming, objective of improving Google Maps is to increase user engagement.

To do so, there are a couple of things that we can look at:

  1. Improve user interface
  2. Add a new feature

I would like to discuss adding a new feature unless you want to discuss improving UI

One feature that I believe would increase unser engagement is having google maps for indoors for malls.

Let's first discuss why I think this is important than we will discuss the feature in detail


It's daunting for mall visitors to find the store they are looking for because of the huge size of mall and new store constantly opening



For indoor maps to work I can think of following feature in the priority order:

  1. collecting mall's information
  2. updating google maps app
  3. updating in-mall directory
  4. Moonshot - smart notifications
Collecting information:
To collect information on where each store is in the mall, we can have robot on each floor. These robots will also collect information on events like seasonal stalls, wet floor, under construction etc.
Updating Google Maps:
If a user has Google maps installed on the phone and they have notifications turned on, we can notify them about this new feature as soon as they enter the mall. Notification can be something like "Easily find the store you are looking for"
Updating Mall Directory:
Often malls have directories installed at multiple places which is just a blueprint of the mall, which has to be updated constantly as and when a store closes or a new store open, we can provide date (collected by our robot) to this directory and replace static image with a digital image so that this directory is always updated. on top of the directory we can write very bold and clear "Powerd by Google Maps" along with this message "Open Google maps on your phone to find the store you are looking for".
This is a crazy idea that's the reason I have it last on my priority list, suppose a user enters a mall that has Macy's and MAC cosmetics store. This user has a shoping list on Google keep that has Lipstic. As this user walks towads Macy's, she passes by MAC store, as this person crosses MAC store, Google Maps gives her a notification that "you can buy lipstic from MAC cosmetics which is on your left"
To summarize, to improve User engagement on google maps, I would intoroduce interior maps for malls which will allow users to find stores they are looking for along with events happening in the mall.
answered ago by
0 votes

ME- I think GMaps has a high market share, so I can think Engagement and User experience would be the business goals to improve. Do you want to me consider any other goals that you have in mind?

Interviewer- No, Go ahead.

Me- We have defined the business goal, Now we will define the sucess metrics so that whatever I suggest as improvement Idea, we can tie back to the metric that we defined.

Success metrics- Company level goal- #active user in GMAPs Product Health level- #average time spend #frequency of use #HMD(how my driving- product rating basically)

Customer Segments: I think Google Maps used by 3 major segments that I can think of-

1) Drivers(commute) 2)Package delivery system 3)Travelers/Influencers

I think Drivers and Package delivery system typically use a well known route almost 80% og their time and aware of the city that they are working. So I think i would like to focus on "Travelers" for this exercise. Also because, 90% of the time travelers visiting a place they havn't before and are very much dependent on Gmaps, improving the user experience will drive more engagegment and will be reflect that in our success metrics.

Interviewer: Sounds Good.

Lets deep dive into personas a little bit to understand the ppainpoints:

John Smith: a WW traveler and blogger, spends a lot of time doing permutation and combination to plan day to day in each city to optimize hours, money spend and cover more things when in a city

Ji yong: is a consultant and travels due to work which ends at 4pm, so have time to check out places in a new city, is foodie, and always asks local people for food recommendation but language is a barrier many a times

Sholanki: is a fashion insta blogger, wants to know all the fashion relevant local boutiques while traveling from point a to point b in a new city.

Shokla: is a student in History Major, loves exploring historical places and excursions but doesnt like prefer tour guides as they are expensive

Summarizing the painpoints: 1)Time spend on generating city based itinerary 2)Heavily depedent on local people and search to find local food joints 3)Wants to get recommendation on shopping, food, attrction location 4) Tour guides are expenisve  

Recommended Features:

1) Generate City based itinerary: giving ability to user to put input variables such as budget, hours number of places to willing to visit in a city and gmaps recommends day to day activity itinerary ex: I will put 100$ and say 5 hours and say 3 places want to visit and eat 2 times: Gmaps will generate 1-3 itinenaries for that day.

2)Recommendation: It has two parts of 1)settings (ability to set preference on what kind of recommendation will you prefer 2) push notification- based on your setting Gmaps will tell you ex:" I have 3 local restaurants near 0.5 miles which serves sushi, do you want to see the list?"

3)Self Service Tour Guide: If you reached any old destination, pressing "Listen" button will help you listen google guided tours on that particular place.

So summarizing so far, I started with business goal and sucess metrics and defining customer segments, painpoints, and recommendation of features to improve the Gmaps. But before closing I want to prioirtize my recommendation to get a sense of what should we build next.

My scoring is I will assign a score for Dev work and Impact sizing. the more the dev work, less the score and and high the impact, high score.

(Note: I will explain why I think how much dev work is needed for each)


#Feature 1) Dev work: High, (score-4) Impact: High (9); Total score=13

#Featrue 2) Dev work: Medium (Score-5) and Impact; High(9) Total score= 14

#Feature 3)Dev work: Medium (Score-5) and Impact: Medium (7)= 12

So I would prioritize the 1) 2) in this quarter and next and #3 probabaly will be in backlog and prioritze when 1,2 are delivered.










answered ago by (35 points)

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