The UX of Google Maps – Real Estate

By | May 15, 2008
  1. Go to http://maps.google.com and search for your house.
  2. Then click “Show search options” to the right of the search box.
  3. Notice the box “Restrict Results to:”
  4. Change the box to “Real Estate”
  5. Click search again
  6. Notice the left hand side shows real estate listings.
  7. Click one of the listings.
  8. Click on the detail bubble on the right.

Side note: 3bdr, 2bath, 1400 sq feet = $830k.  1400 sq feet!

Ok, back to the UX.  I think Google made some serious errors here.  This feature is BURIED under a pile of clicks and drop downs.  I suppose they are trying to keeep the main UI simple so people won’t get confused with too much functionality.  However, the design seems messy to me for someone who wants that functionality.

As Google grows, their products are starting to get more and more features.  This is a critical time in the evolution of Google.  How do they handle feature bloat?  Do they redo their signature UI to make it more sophisticated including menubars and other UI tools that have worked well in operating systems?  Do they bury features like this and have lower adoption and usage rates?

My opinion on this is that Google needs to introduce a structure across all of their products that combines several of their existing options.  Notice at the top of the page on Maps that their are links to lots of other google sites.  On the top right is Help, My Account, Web History, etc etc etc.  Lots of stuff.  Plus the maps themselves have options like Real Estate.

Side note:  The language of “Restrict results to: Real Estate” doesn’t totally make sense.  It sounds wierd.

As I was saying, Google needs to make a coherent and consistent options UX across their products.  I think the top of the screen is the right place, but they need more power in it.  Put things in menus.  Menus are extremely useful as a product line grows.

You cant just keep adding functionality and not consider the UI.  Google is in danger of making their products hard to use if they don’t clean up once in a while.

Of course, all of this does not say it’s not a great feature.  I love it.  Google UI is really well done for the most part.  I am just raising the yellow flag that they are introducing some UX that are awkward at best.

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