James Lorentson UX Design



Google navigation app for motorcyclists.


The Challenge


Motorcyclists have unique navigational needs.  In the US, Google currently provides navigation for cars, public transport, bicycles, and walking, but nothing for motorcycling.  In India, Google introduced a two-wheeler mode in their Maps app in December 2017 (beta in 2015), and now want to expand further.  Rather than integrating it directly with the existing Maps platform, they’d like a dedicated country-specific app focused on the unique needs and laws of each country.  It was my job to conduct user research and design an unparalleled navigation experience while also adhering to Material Design standards.


Design Process

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define & ideate

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test & iterate




Research Goals:

Google Maps (India) demonstrating Two-Wheeler mode.

Google Maps (India) demonstrating Two-Wheeler mode.

  1. Explore WHY people ride motorcycles.
  2. Familiarize myself with current trends in motorcycle GPS.
  3. Familiarize myself with strengths and weaknesses of competitor motorcycle navigation apps.
  4. Identify:
    1. Who primary users are;
    2. What users want;
  5. Understand how people currently navigate on their motorcycles.
  6. Understand if and how people use mobile apps to aid their riding.
  7. Understand any obstacles stopping people from using apps while riding.
  8. Understand what features would be most important for navigating on two wheels.




Competitor Analysis


It was very helpful to survey the competition.  I downloaded all of the apps and looked at major features.  I highlighted the best parts, took lessons from areas I though could be improved and discovered some untapped areas for development. 

Play Store comments: one great and often overlooked way of ascertaining some free but targeted user research is to scour the Play Store and Apple App Store comments on apps that are comparable.  


User Surveys

It is important to dig deep, ask the right questions and find the right answers.


When users are part of a smaller and defined market, user surveys are an excellent way to get great data.  First, I spent some time designing strong questions. 

From there, I took the survey to several motorcycle rider groups on Facebook, Reddit, Meetup and online forums.  I had a great response number (32) and rate (17%), and the results are nothing short of amazing!


Survey Quotes

I learned a lot of our target users and their riding motivations and needs.  Finally, it is important with surveys that have pre-defined answers to open the floor for any other feedback.  This is especially important during user testing with users of an existing product, but works here as well.

In the PNW where we are, it rains a bit. Most rides I’ve run with do not have their phones as a primary GPS for that reason. An app that could generate a track of the route, and could then be shared via BT to a GPS unit that is waterproof..... I’d pay for that.
Easily identifiable dirt roads v bitumen. Some apps don’t differentiate and when you plan a trip for sports bikes and you end up at dirt roads, it’s not the ideal scenario.
Voice command to find a gas station or rest stop.
Allow users to specify a round trip or one-way route that exceeds the mileage but show gas station waypoints along the way or generate the route so that it crosses gas station waypoints at the outer limits of the mileage range.
Police identified button to warn others of traps.
“Get me home” and “Let me explore for” commands. “Let me explore for 2 hours” would generate a random one-way route that should last for about 2 hours.
Ability to save routes, share routes w/ friends. The ability to record a route as I drove it. The ability to plan a route, including stops for gas, bathroom breaks, food, photo ops, etc.
Sharing of routes. Fuel stops.
Drop a pin to get directions to pin location.
Creating your own routes would also be a nice feature to eventually add and share with others as there currently isn’t a great app that allows you to plan your own specific route and then provide navigation for that route (google maps has one but it limits to 10 “stops.”
Let rider know if a road is not paved.
The biggest feature that I think would separate other navigation apps from a motorcycle-specific app like this is the ability to input your destination and have the app provide several different options with varying trade-offs, including factors such as overall route time, traffic, scenic roads and road quality.
Allow users to enter a mileage that determines their maximum distance before needing gas.

Define & ideate



From all of this great data, I came up with Eric.

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Feature Prioritization


I take the features most desired , account for any supportive research, and then analyze the effort to implement.  This allows us to come up with tiers of product development.  Tier 1 represents our minimum viable product (MVP) that I built for this project.


App Hierarchy


 App Flow



Material Design  


Material is a design system – backed by open-source code – that helps teams build digital experiences.  From icons and fonts, to padding and shadows, to how buttons respond to touch, Material is essentially a collection of guidelines and best practices for design.  While it can be difficult to adhere to certain specifications, it creates a cohesion among your users other apps also incorporating Material. 

Because ROUTES is a standalone app, I used Material Theming that still reflect your product’s design goals.






Next Steps...

  • Validation/usability testing to see how the app works in the hands of real users.
  • Enhance voice-driven features and add additional alerting functions.