A Technopreneur Blog

A Passion For Perfection

  • July 2006
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Google is not No.1 in Maps

Posted by misterscorp on July 12, 2006

Just read the below excerpt, Taken from Seen Creative Group blogged by Mr.Josh, who shares his experience on using both the Yahoo & Google maps on real-time.

The blogger was able to find out the places were their parents were literally into trouble. The scenario took place when the blogger’s parents visited the blogger and their parents were returning back to their home.

 

On the way home from visiting me in Rochester this weekend, my parents decided that instead of driving back home to Connecticut, they would take a detour and visit Saratoga Springs. So they call me from the road, “Josh, we’re going to Saratoga, how do we get there?” Fortunately for them, I happened to be in the studio at my computer, so I sigh and tell my Mom to give me a minute. I punch up Google Maps, (by default) and as always, with the greatest of ease, I find them the best route to get into Saratoga off the Thruway. Thanks Google, you have yet to fail me, (or my family).About an hour later, I receive yet another call from my mother, this time a bit more distraught. “We were on that route 67 you told us to get on and we got a flat tire.” Great, of all the days of the year, you get a flat tire on July 3rd, in the middle of nowhere and all you have in the trunk is a doughnut. So now I’m worried, my family is stranded who knows where outside of Saratoga, 4 hours from home, with no place to stay for the night, and they’re driving on a doughnut.

“Mom,” I say, “can you give me a landmark or a recent cross street?”
“We’re right near an Exxon station,” she replies.
“Perfect.”

I turn to Yahoo! Maps Beta, for this one. I search Saratoga Springs, NY. Then I turn to their “Find on the Map” search feature and type in Exxon. Instantly, the map populates with the 4 or 5 Exxon stations in the area.

“Mom? Are you guys near Doheny Oil Corporation?”
“Yeah!”
“Well, it turns out, you guys are only about 1 mile outside of Saratoga.”
“Can you find us a hotel?”
“Working on it.”

So back to Yahoo! Maps Beta. I turn back to the “Find of the Map” feature, but this time, I browse by category. Travel and Transit > Hotels and Motels. Again, the map populates with the 30 or 40 lodgings in the area. Not only do the listings have the address and phone number of the hotel, they’ve included a 5 star rating system and a “more info” link, which provides you with, well, more information on the hotel; reviews, website address, etc. I pick out a bunch that sounded up to par and give my mom the info.

Ultimately, my parents found a safe place to stay for the night, and the concierge at their motel hooked them up with a mechanic to fix the flat in the morning. They called me back as they were sitting down to dinner and gave me the good news.

For situations like this, Yahoo! has really outdone the competition. They’ve delivered a human element to the search feature, whereas Google Maps, presents the user with an extremely open-ended search engine, allowing the user to search for anything instead of what they really need.

Because Yahoo!’s map search engine is so refined, it allows the user search their results contextually. If you search Saratoga Springs and then search gas stations, within that search you are returned gas stations ONLY in that area, not 62 irrelevant search results like with the Google Search. The top 3 results returned were Exxon stations, 2 in Vermont and 1 in Nassau, NY. I checked the additional 59 results, and the results were atrocious. Anytime Exxon is mentioned in metadata, it appears in the results. Adelphi Hotel, Community Hospice, Greater Grace Community Church, the list goes on and it is nearly ALL irrelevant.

Taking a hands off approach when designing an application like Yahoo! Maps Beta or Google Maps is wrong. You need to understand the goals of your users and help them get there. Design your interface so your users make the right decisions, especially for a contextually-sensitive search engine like Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps Beta. Guide your users to where they want to travel, don’t have them searching in circles.

Google should listen to this…

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2 Responses to “Google is not No.1 in Maps”

  1. Josh said

    I’m glad you appreciate what I had to say, but if you’re going to quote an entire article, please have the courtesy to directly link the article and give the writer credit.

  2. vivek said

    Hi Josh,
    I had updated my blog, with the Trackback URI and then the writer credit. I am extremely sorry for not mentioning it before.

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