Thanks to one of my classmate’s posts, I started thinking about apps, companies, and services that act as a great examples of design thinking. In the article What is Design Thinking by IDEO, design thinking is described as a process that has a human-centered core. “It encourages organizations to focus on the people they’re creating for, leading to better products, services, and internal processes.”1 With this definition in mind, the first company that I think of is Waze.
Recently, I spent about 10 hours in a car traveling to visit family, and despite it being long and feeling incredibly groggy afterward, I know it would’ve been a far worse experience if we didn’t have Waze. I truly believe Waze was designed with its users – drivers – in mind. With features that allow users to find alternative routes due to road closures and accidents, real-time updates for debris on the road or major delays, and the ability to manually add updates for road closures, cops, or other occurrences on the road, I’m convinced that the creators of Waze were design-thinkers.
I imagine the creators of Waze thought about the current navigation apps on the market, and came together to think about the real needs of drivers everywhere. By focusing on crowd-sourcing information from its users, and collecting certain data from users as they’re driving (speed limits, closed roads, detours, etc.)2, Waze is able to provide a timely, reliable navigation app that gets drivers where they need to go faster and with less hassle.
I do have one problem with a function of Waze, and that’s the self-reporting feature that’s expected to be used while driving. For example, let’ssay you’re driving down I-95 and you see a notification that there’s a hidden police offer a mile down the road. As you pass the spot where the officer is located, a window will pop up asking if the car is still there. If you have a second passenger in the car who can tap “yes” or “no”, then that’s one thing. But if you’re the only person in the car and you’re the one driving, it doesn’t seem to be the safest feature of the website.
That being said, Waze has introduced a voice command feature in its app – which would seem to be the perfect solution the problem. Users say “OK Waze!” and the app starts listening, similar to Google Home or Amazon Alexa products.3 Admittedly, as an owner of both of those products, I don’t have a ton of confidence that the voice commands feature of Waze would be 100% effective. Either way, the development of the voice command feature is just another way that the creators of Waze have designed (and continue to design and improve) the app with their users in mind.
- “What is Design Thinking?” IDEO U. https://www.ideou.com/blogs/inspiration/what-is-design-thinking
- “How does Waze Work?” Google. https://support.google.com/waze/answer/6078702?hl=en
- “How to Enable Waze Voice Commands” Lifewire. https://www.lifewire.com/enable-waze-voice-commands-4178495