Improve the real-time location feature and make it efficient and safer to use on the streets
While writing this case study, it’s been more than a year since I have moved to a beautiful city in China called Xiamen. Being a new country and a new town has often made me take longer routes or wrong directions while using the Amaps (Chinese version of google maps). So I prefer using WeChat real-time location feature to be monitored when I am meeting my friends. While using this feature on WeChat, I often get upset that I took a longer route or a longer time to reach a destination and it gets annoying. I decided to look over this matter and build a turn-by-turn navigation solution to help solve this problem.
I did the whole project by myself and was helped by my friends for the insights.
My roles include:
• Visual Solution
For the research, I followed the Design Thinking Process to find the best solution for end users.
Though I identified the pain points, I wanted to validate the problem with a significant group of people to understand if they face a similar issue. So, I created a questionnaire asking my friends about their experiences while using the feature. I was able to get insights from 36 people and uncovered the following data-
76% confirmed they use this feature often, 23% used it sometimes, 11% had never used this feature before.
This insight confirmed that I was not the only one facing this inconvenience.
I deep-dived into many articles and read through many forums related to real-time location sharing and how differently people use this feature. I uncovered that it helps many people in their daily lives and keeps them aware of the whereabouts of their family members and friends find it easy to navigate and meet.
From my research and interviews on real-time location sharing, I learnt that:
• Location sharing sometimes an excellent way to deal with getting lost. It allows you to be with that person through a digital presence. It is a playful and fun and friendly way to be connected.
• On the funnier side, couples use location sharing to settle debates about their whereabouts on a particular day or track each other in crowded festivals.
• Parents track their children and keep an eye on their safety. On the other side children, while sharing location, feel concerned about being watched upon constantly.
After having a deep understanding of the users who use location sharing on various other apps, I wanted to focus on a problem statement that my solution will revolve around. After a lot of brainstorming and HMWs, I decided upon this problem statement:
How might we aid users with a safe and efficient navigation system?
The major touch points for the solution will be need for an efficient navigational assistance and safety as a priority while using on the streets. as well as relook the interface for better heuristics.
To make the navigation efficient and save users time, I decided to have a Turn-by-turn Navigation. I chose to use the existing “Hold to talk” option to make better assistance and added a nudge with a display audio message on the screen that automatically disappears if the user does not view it for 10seconds or he/she chooses to ignore it by sliding it to the right.
In the usual navigation case, I decided to add the Compass Feature to assist the user in following the compass direction.
To increase safety while using on the streets, an always-on display was a useful display feature to add. It will help the user glance it when required and the wrong direction vibration in the smartphone will keep the user informed if he/she is taking the wrong path.
On evaluating, I observed that the icon language used was not clear and did not match the user’s visual language. There was a need to revisit the icon language and find the right visual style which matches the real world.
To further give form to my ideas, I tried to implement all the planned features and proposed design solutions.
Real-time Location feature
Real-time location feature lies under location feature along with send location option. It is a 3 step process, on pressing the real-time location the user shares his/her respective live locations and another user accepts it to join the sharing.
Giving the user a choice to choose turn-by-turn navigation or compass is very important. On selecting the turn-by-turn navigation option, the user accepts to be assisted and it is necessary to make them feel comfortable. The navigation assistance will direct the user with a voice command when there is a turn and remain silent otherwise. In the wrong turn case, the user will experience a nudge and a vibration to inform the user to look at the screen and get on the right path.
Hold to talk
Hold to talk button lies in the center in a comfortable spot on the screen. It enables the user to send an instant audio message to other users incase they need special assistance. It is essential to include human assistance as we humans consider it more accurate than system assistance. It would make the user not feel lost because of a system mishap and the other user could come to rescue immediately. It is also handy feature while driving or cycling as it's easy to access and does not need much attention away from the road.
Receive audio message
When the other user speaks, she/he is not sure if the user has listened or in a few cases, the user listening misses it because she/he screen was off. It is necessary that the user is intimated and has substantial time on-screen until it disappears. When the user receives the audio message, it pops out and stays visible for 10seconds until it disappears or the user chooses to slide right and ignore it. The decision to add play-on-click for an audio message is to make sure the user doesn't lose it as in these situations every message is crucial.
The widely use of this sharing feature is on the streets and user safety is the most important. Keeping in mind, an always-on display is the most appropriate addition to the feature. The user can always keep track of the navigation on the street and do not need to unlock the device every time which takes a lot of attention away from the street. This will be a lifesaver option for people who will use it on the streets while driving or cycling, where chances of an accident are high if not be careful.
The minimize option on the top-right corner allows the user to chat while the navigation is running in the background to enable ease for the user to chat while navigating.
For the user to end the navigation, s/he can use the top-left corner icon or the system informs the user to end the sharing on reaching the location automatically.
The WeChat real-time location feature's original interface looked to follow the basic rules so, I did not feel the need to realign the layout. Keeping the thumb zone in mind, I kept the turn-by-turn navigation in the reachable area, making it easier for the user.
The hold to talk icon and location target looked confusing and needed a change in the icon design for users to quickly understand the interface.
I made the Hold to talk icon similar to the hold to speak icon style from the chat section so that the user is aware and knows the exact usage.
The location target icon looked like a navigation icon, which does not match the general icon style and the button style was squaricle and not the same as the round button style of other icons. To make it relevant, I followed and replaced it with the icon type used in other apps.. For a unified button style, I made the button round similar to other button styles.
The big challenge was in the ideation stage to build a safer feature to use on the streets and doesn't need much user attention. The need for other user's assistance was also crucial as it needed to be quick to listen and shouldn't vanish immediately.
What did I Learn?
The project was fun to work on. Interviewing users who use this feature often and understanding how different users use location sharing was very insightful. While working, I also realized that the best and safest device to use turn-by-turn navigation would be smartwatches. Designing the solution for smartwatch could be the safest and useful alternative for a mobile device while navigating.
Thank you for reading. I hope you liked it!