Case study 1
VZ Navigator is a Verizon branded navigation app for mobile devices currently developed by TeleCommunication Systems, Inc (TCS). I was the lead designer on VZ Navigator from January 2006 to August 2012. During that time it’s availability spread from one solitary feature phone, to practically all mobile devices within Verizon Wireless’s catalog; Including the most popular smart devices. It also served as a ‘proof of concept’ for all the other carrier branded navigation apps that we created over the years.
VZ Navigator, like most apps created by start-up companies, was initially designed and shipped without much emphasis on research or usability testing; However, after a few of years of very engineering-focused design, reason won-out and, as a company, we began to put users at the center of our process. During my last 3 years at TCS, VZ Navigator was heavily influenced by research and testing, both in the field and in our own lab. The following case-study focuses on some of the features designed during this time.
- Leverage the abilities of today’s cutting-edge devices
- Meet and surpass the features of our competition
- Meet our business goals
- Improve the overall user experience
VZ Navigator underwent expert analysis, competitive review, focus groups, quantitative and qualitative studies, card-sorting exercises, etc. Redesigns were the product of contextual inquiry in the field, ideation meetings, and almost monthly lab testing.
From a technological perspective, search and maps were completely overhauled, speech based input, on par with Google’s technology, was added.
In addition, several concepts emerged that included expanding into the tablet device arena.
Lastly, as new platforms emerged they were addressed.
Despite the challenges that Google Maps Navigation and other free services placed on VZ Navigator, this user-centered effort made a very positive impact and it is still the navigation app of choice for millions of users.