Exercise 21 – How would you improve Google Maps?

Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.

See also:

How to answer a product improvement question in a product manager job interview

List of product improvement questions for product manager job interviews

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John
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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.

Anonymous
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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

Jeff bright
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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

Bijan
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I agree with Jeff. You want to provide more detail around your answer to help the interviewer see your thought process.

ML
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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…

Bijan
Guest

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.