Expand availability to majority of mobile devices


  • The layout has to be compatible to all non webkit mobile browsers with minimal custom coding for each platform
  • The flow should be somewhat identical to all mobile browsers
  • Add ability to search along the route without adding much complexity


Scope and Support Identification

From initial research we conducted on mobile browser capabilities with the help of the development team, I was able to categorize mobile browsers into two groups – webkit and non-webkit mobile browsers. This decision was made based on:

  • Display size
  • HTML + CSS support
  • Client script support

After taking the complexity of features that requires certain type of layout into consideration, the team decided to narrow the scope down to only support mobile browsers with CSS features.

Site Structure and Universal Layout

To cater both webkit and non-webkit mobile browsers, the structure of the site and overall flows were simplified and normalized. On the presentation layer, the layout is also standardized to mimic yet some of the content has been removed to reduce clutter/noise. Because webkit mobile browsers offer better CSS and client script integration, minor interaction enhancements were added for a richer user experience while maintaining the main flow and structure.

Feature Highlight 1: Business Search

Business Search is one of the core feature of Not only it plays an important role in the whole experience of mapping and getting directions, it also generates revenue from its business advertisers. With mobile version, having a contextual search is very crucial to keep the site flows smoothly without getting users scrambled to figure out how to perform a search – especially for users who are viewing the site with non-webkit mobile browser.

By putting the Business Search feature as part of the map and directions result pages, the site provides convenience for its users to quickly search for businesses nearby. At the same time, advertisers visibility are promoted by providing a sponsored search (e.g. find Starbucks/advertiser’s business nearby), displayed in random order. This combination creates balance between user experience (by providing contextual and relevance content) and business (revenue generation).

Feature Highlight 2: Search Along the Route and Add Location to Route

Search Along the Route takes Business Search into another level. This feature has its own unique challenges. We are dealing with small screen devices and we don’t want the screen to be crammed with everything it finds along the route, especially when user is in the middle of a long road trip. Another challenge is the limitation to be able to know exactly where the user is during the trip.

In several brainstorm sessions with the development team, we put together user stories, using our own experiences whenever we go for a road trip – what we usually do when we are trying to search for something in the middle of the trip. After analyzing all the patterns from the provided experiences and supplied by the only solid information we have: the maneuvers, we came up with a solution to allow users to choose the area they want to perform a search:

  • Around the starting point
  • Around any of the destinations in the trip
  • Along a certain route. When user opts to do search along a certain route, give user more options to choose the area (marked by maneuvers with minimum of 1 mile distance on the route – option 3 in the sketch below).

Also provide the option for users to add the location from the search result to the existing route. It gives confidence to users that they will not lose the route they are currently using. It also gives convenience and help users get back to their route and continue their journey safely.

The Result Web Application has helped to extend its reach to mobile users. By keeping its focus on providing only the core features, web application has delivered a set of solid service and creative solutions with the same quality of service that website has to offer:

  • Map a location
  • Get directions
  • Multi-point routing
  • Find a business
  • Search along the route
  • View traffic conditions
  • Sync with My Places account for saved maps and directions