is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
The redesigned Google Maps comes with a handy virtual tour to acquaint users with what’s changed. That’s hardly revolutionary, but in a very nice bit of user experience engineering, the tour has some extra smarts built in. If, like me, upon first getting access to this new version you immediately start poking around and trying out various searches and only click on the tour option later, the tour’s messaging will cleverly acknowledge that state:
Messing about with a new product unguided is a completely natural first use case for just about any product, and my guess is almost everybody does this. So creating a corresponding behavior for this tour makes perfect sense. Instead of assuming that the tour will commence with the product in its virgin state, this opening message says “It looks like you’ve already started exploring the new Google Maps!” and guides the user from there.
This took a little bit of extra design and engineering, and the end result does not make or break the product. But to me, it’s significant in that it clearly signals how much thought and care the product team has invested into the app. That’s worth loads.+