The real test of any site happens _after_ you visit it out of curiousity. What happens when you need to get from here to there? What happens when you’re not thinking about the technology and you just want to get something done? That’s what separates the “del.icio.us”:http://del.icio.us from the “Spurl,”:http://www.spurl.net/ The “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com and “eBay”:http://www.ebay.com from every other “Here we are starting something on the Internet…isn’t this COOL?” company out there.
Click through for an indepth comparison…
Later on today I’m driving to Philadelphia to see “Eddie Leigh”:http://www.edwardleigh.com/default.cfm a wonderful speaker and colorectal cancer survivor present “Trauma to Triumph,”:http://www.c-three.org/news/2005/10/trauma_to_triumph_colorectal_c.php his seminar on cancer awareness and survival. He’s a motivational speaker professionally and a very nice guy.
Normally I would go right to “Google Maps”:http://maps.google.com to plot out the trip. My car has the built-in GPS but I like to print out directions anyway as backup. Plus, it gives me the address to program in the car.
This time I decided to try “Yahoo Maps beta.”:http://maps.yahoo.com/beta
h4. First strike against Yahoo…my home address.
I live in West Windsor, NJ. A few years ago, zip codes were consolidated and what used to be called “Princeton Junction” was rolled into West Windsor. West Windsor is the correct town name, but Yahoo Maps said it couldn’t find it and insisted that I select the name as Princeton Junction. Fine. Annoying. Google Maps knew my address was in West Windsor without scolding me…it also recognizes the address as Princeton Junction. Make the switch behind the scenes, don’t interrupt the user. If it’s obvious that it’s the same place just go there. If it’s wrong, I’ll tell you.
Yahoo Maps has a lot more going on than Google, so as a result the page is slower to load and work with (click to enlarge to actual size). Moving around is nowhere near as smooth as it is on Google.
h4. Second strike against Yahoo… direction detail.
On Google, you can select the number in the direction step and it brings up a close-up *right on the map* so you can see exactly what’s going on at that turn. Yahoo tries to do the same thing, but instead of the closeup being on the map, it pops up underneath the direction step:
What’s wrong with that? Context. I want to see where that detail is in relation to the whole map. Little box by itself means nothing.
This is Google’s view of the same step:
Maybe it’s me, but I think the context helps the detail make sense. Otherwise, it’s simply “look what we can do!” which gets old _fast._
h4. Third strike against Yahoo…assumptions.
What’s that saying about when you make assumptions? Enter starting address in “A”, ending address in “B.” If there’s a business at that address, it assumes you want to go there. But if there’s more than one business at that address, you have to select which one. It asks you to select a business nearby or close the window to continue. What’s up with that? Just take me to the #$@%^ address and don’t make me take an extra click to tell you that I don’t want to do what you shouldn’t have assumed I wanted to do (find a business). Maybe a friend lives at that address. Maybe I just want to see what’s going on in the center of Philadelphia. #1 rule of technology in my book…make what I want to do easier for me and then *get the heck out of my way*.
h4. Fourth strike against Yahoo…printing.
On Google, you hit the “print” button and it prints using a print stylesheet. Map one one page, directions on the other. Big type, clear and easy to read. Straightforward and simple.
One thing I can say in Yahoo’s favor is that the “live traffic” button is a good idea…but it should only report on traffic on the route I have marked. Do I care what is happening 20 miles away? No, not really.
h4. Bottom line
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m jaded. But the whole Alax “Look isn’t this cooooolll how you can click and things fade in and out” thing doesn’t do it for me anymore. It’s about as exciting as Flash or the fact that you can play a movie in a browser window. A map site should be clear and straightforward. I need to see where something is, and I need to know how to get there in a way that makes sense. If I want to find what’s nearby or a specific business, I’ll ask for it…until then, make it clear that I can get more info but don’t clutter my interface until I say it’s okay. Google’s satellite views _added_ to the value of the page without getting in the way. In my mind, Yahoo’s map site doesn’t come close to the functionality of Google’s. I’ll go to Yahoo Maps if I want to demonstrate to someone what can be done with today’s technology. If I want to get somewhere, I’ll go to Google.