Google Maps in Mumbai 1
Obtaining Driving Directions in Mumbai: Ask
People versus Ask Google
June 20, 2008
Google Maps in Mumbai 2
In United States, almost every person carries a print-out of driving directions from
Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo Maps and other such mapping websites when travelling to a
new place, even if that place is just one mile away. Most cars here also have in-built GPS
systems which give drivers ‘live’ directions. However, this is just the case in countries like United
States where the roads and naming conventions are structured and organized. But what about
countries like India, where there are no organized and consistent road-naming conventions? Is it
possible for such a system to work in India? 
After the immense success of its ‘route planner’ in United States, United Kingdom,
Australia and other countries world-wide, Google Maps decided to reach out to this promising
market and understand their current behaviors related to the task of acquiring driving directions
and how people in India would like new-age technology to help them make this task easier.
This current research attempts to help Google Maps understand the current behaviors
and opinions of the potential users of this service in Mumbai, an urban city in India.
Research Plan for Google maps
Summary: Research plan outlines the needs and goals of Google Maps to conduct
exploratory research of its potential users in Mumbai, and presents a schedule designed to
meet this goal. It describes the user population that will be studied. It also includes plans for
eight phone interviews and two online focus group sessions. Schedule for the entire research
activity from 19th May 2008 to 20th June 2008 is included, and an estimated budget is proposed.
Business and User Goals: After researcher’s first meeting with Google Maps
representatives responsible for this project, the following Business and User Goals emerged.
1. Business Goals identified by Google to start this service in Mumbai are:
Increase market share in Mumbai by 15%
Increase number of users by way of increasing functionality by 15%
2. User Goal identified for this service is:
“Obtain directions that are accurate 90% of the time to enable faster travel time
Research goals: Elucidation of business and user goals helped the researcher to
identify the issues that she would like to focus on.
The goal of this research will be to shed light on the following issues:-
1. How do residents of Mumbai currently obtain driving directions?
2. How much value do they see in using internet to obtain driving directions?
3. How do they want web technology to make their task of obtaining driving directions
4. What challenges they think this service will face in order to be successful in Mumbai?
User Population: After extensive discussions with the Google Maps Marketing
representatives, two kinds of user-groups emerged.
1. Primary User Group: Local Drivers in Mumbai
2. Secondary User Group: Tourists visiting Mumbai
Google Maps in Mumbai 3
This research study will focus on the Primary User group. This group is further divided
into two categories.
User Group A: Users who are already familiar with this service and have used it
recently (within past 6 months)
User Group B: Users who are unfamiliar with this service and have never used it
After collecting demographic data of potential users from the Marketing Department at
Google, researcher started developing User Profile of the Primary User. This exercise would
help her and Google Maps to get a clearer understanding of potential users. The profile
prepared was not extremely detailed, but as the research progresses she will be able to fill in
some gaps. Alike Courage and Baxter she too believes that creating a user profile is an iterative
process and as one performs future research and conducts additional user requirements
activities, more detailed user characteristics will be revealed.
Initial User Profile of a Car-driver in Mumbai who will use
online driving directions.
Age 18 +
Gender 65% males 35% Females
Computer Very comfortable using the web. Uses
Experience Internet daily for personal and/or professional
Personality Tech-savvy, independent- does not like to
rely on other people for help.
Technology available High speed internet access (to download
Research Structure: Researcher will be using two distinct methods in order to obtain
data from the two different user groups. For the first user group she will conduct Phone
Interviews as they already have prior exposure to this service and they would readily be able to
share what features might work/might not work for Mumbai roads. Whereas, for the second
User Group she will conduct Online Focus Groups as they are not familiar with this concept
and a group-setting will help them to ponder upon points which might be new to them and come
up with novel ideas about how they would like this service to be implemented in Mumbai. Lastly,
for both user groups, she will also capture the value they see in using this service in Mumbai.
Both these methods are chosen as they are cost-efficient as they can be executed remotely.
The following table explains why the above two methods were selected as opposed to
other field methods: [Ideas from 2, 3, and 4 were borrowed]
Methods Reasons to select/ or to not select
1 Phone Interviews a) Reduces costs while permitting direct one-on-one
Selected interaction with potential users to discuss the value they
see in this new service being launched.
b) Preferred method to collect information where the
subsequent questions to be asked depends on a previous
c) Optimal method to acquire a thorough understanding of
Google Maps in Mumbai 4
user’s motivation in using or not using this new service in
2 Online Focus Groups a) Good technique to collect multiple perspectives to a new
Selected service in a short period of time.
b) Allows for group interaction as a means of generating new
ideas for customizing this service to their geographic
c) Optimal method to note down participants’ attitudes,
opinions, feelings regarding this service
3 Usability Roundtables a) Service is still at a development stage and there is no
prototype at Google Maps that potential users can
currently work with.
4 Collages a) Difficult to implement remotely.
b) Study did not call for an in-depth understanding of
5 Card Sorts a) The goal of the study did not include capturing users’
terminology or their mental model of the structure of the
6 Contextual Inquiry a) Cannot fit in budget as method requires travelling to
Mumbai or hiring a user-researcher in Mumbai.
b) Very time-consuming to go to each user’s house or follow
the user around the city to see how she/he obtains driving
7 Ethnography (videos) a) Very time-consuming to videotape each user around the
city to see how she/he obtains driving directions
8 Log Books/ Incident a) Users’ behavior in obtaining driving directions does not
diaries change significantly on a day-to-day basis. They can
explain their behavior in one meeting.
b) Topic is not sensitive and can be discussed unreservedly.
c) Very time consuming to analyze log books of multiple
9 Surveys a) Does not allow for two way conversation between users
and the researcher.
b) All the questions could not be answered adequately from a
selection of options.
c) Detailed responses from small set of users was preferred
over sketchy responses from large number of users
10 Usability Testing a) An existing prototype does not exist.
Schedule: Research will take 25 working days to complete. 50% of the time will be
spent in preparing for the research, wherein researcher will peruse the material related to web
mapping websites in India/Mumbai. Then, based on the user-profile she will prepare a screener
and started recruiting and scheduling participants while simultaneously preparing for Interview
and Focus group sessions. She will start with phone interviews to get a list of opinions from
participants and then these opinions will be used to plan topics to be discussed in Online Focus
Groups. Two Online Focus Group sessions will be conducted. Lastly the data will be thoroughly
analyzed and a final research report will be submitted to Google maps on 20th June 2008.
Following chart illustrates the schedule prepared for Google Maps.
Google Maps in Mumbai 5
Dates May June
19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1 Preparation for Research
Recruting & Scheduling
Conducting Online Focus
5 Analyzing Results
Budget: The following table illustrates the projected budgets, broken out by total
estimated time the researcher has to work on specific tasks as well as other costs such as
recruiting incentives for participants. These are approximate figures based on industry
Researcher’s Cost [Per hour = $160]
1. Preparation for the research
2. Recruiting and scheduling 1 hour per participant
participants (1hr × 16 participants = 16 hrs)
3. Conducting research
a. Phone Interviews 30 mins per person (30 mins × 8 participants = 4 hrs)
b. Online Focus Groups 3 hours per group (3hrs × 2 groups = 6 hrs)
4. Analyzing results
a. Phone Interviews 2 hours per person (2hr × 8 participants = 16 hrs)
b. Online Focus Groups 5 hours per group (5hrs × 2 groups = 10 hrs)
5. Preparing report for email
Total Time: 83 hours
$35 per person
1. Recruiting Incentive ($35 × 8 participants for phone interviews + 8 participants
for two focus groups = $560)
2. Renting facility with
video/audio recording software $1,500
to conduct remote tests
Researcher’s rate: $160 × 79 hours
Other Costs: $2,060
Total Cost: $14,700
Deliverables: Two separate reports will be prepared for the Phone Interviews and
Online Focus Groups sessions. Each report will include an outline of the procedure, results and
analysis of the data, session notes in Excel and audio recordings.
A) Process: After the research plan was approved by Google Maps and there was a
mutual understanding of research goals between the researcher and clients; a second meeting
was scheduled to discuss the implementation of Phone Interviews. In this meeting, everyone
revisited the research goals and the user population and prepared the list of questions they
wanted user information on.
Semi-Structured type of interview was selected as there was a need to ask open-ended
questions in order to collect qualitative data (i.e. user’s opinions and reactions to this service) as
Google Maps in Mumbai 6
well as to ask close-ended questions in order to collect quantitative data (i.e. how valuable they
think this service will be on a scale of 1 to 5)
Questionnaire Preparation: After the meeting, researcher went over the meeting
notes and prepared a final list of questions [Appendix A]. The researcher decided to first ask the
participants to share their recent experience in using this service in a foreign city. Then, she
asked participants about how they currently obtain directions and to comment on using this
online service to obtain driving directions in Mumbai. Lastly, she asked participants to indicate
the value they see in using this service in Mumbai. He took care that the questions were worded
in a clear, understandable and non-biased manner.
Recruiting and Scheduling: In order to select the ‘right’ participants for this
interview, a recruiting screener [Appendix B] was prepared based on the user-profile. Recruiting
screener informed participants about the purpose of the study, how long the session will last,
and the incentive they will receive. The users were also informed that sessions will be recorded
and these recordings along with their personal details (Name, phone no. etc) will strictly be used
for study purposes.
Researcher selected the participants who matched her user-profile and scheduled the
interview for the date and time suitable for these participants. Reminder of the interview
date/time along with researcher’s contact number in case of emergency/cancellation was
emailed to the participants two days prior to their interview.
Conducting the interview: Researcher conducted eight phone interviews at a
rented facility in Waltham, MA, USA. Each interview lasted for 30 minutes. Researcher recorded
and took notes for each session.
Firstly, researcher built rapport with the participants. She thanked them to participate in
the study, introduced herself, explained the purpose of the study, briefly mentioned how the
session will proceed, reminded them about the confidentiality of the study, asked for their
permission to record and encouraged them to answer candidly. Then, researcher asked the
questions she had prepared. Lastly, she thanked the participants for their time and clarified any
doubts they had with their compensation.
Data Analysis: First, researcher transferred all the session notes from her
longhand pages to a MS Excel document. [Appendix C]. She used different Excel Sheets for
each question and included the answers from all eight participants under that question sheet.
This helped her to review all the responses to any question. For qualitative data this allowed her
to uncover similar patterns or trends. She also made a note of how many times a comment was
repeated for a particular response (for e.g. 3 out of 8 participants think Google Maps will not
work as Mumbai has complex roads.) For quantitative data (Likert rating scale questions) she
presented the average values and explained the ratings.
B) Results and analysis: Researcher interviewed 5 participants residing in Mumbai and
3 participants originally from Mumbai but who are currently studying/working in US. Their
average driving experience was 6.3 years. The data collected and its analysis is presented
Previous Experience with Mapping Websites: 5 Participants had used Google
Maps and 2 had used Yahoo Maps in order to obtain driving directions in US. Most participants
found this service extremely helpful, convenient, and easy to use. The average rating of their
experience in using this service is 4.25 (out of 5).Key reasons that made their experience
Google Maps in Mumbai 7
1. Google gave reliable options for places for which exact address was not known.
2. It was helpful to get an exact indication of the miles and total time they would take to
reach a particular destination.
3. It was helpful to get an indication of the mile/miles and time they will take to reach
consecutive landmarks to their final destination.
4. Textual + visual explanation of the directions was useful. As even if they were unsure
about the correct turn, they had an idea about the direction looking at the visual map. P4 quoted
“Highlighted route keeps you on track.”
5. P2 found the ‘lady’s voice’ in GPS too fast to follow as he was not comfortable with
English language. Thus, seeing the entire route beforehand and taking a print-out of the
directions helped him to reach his destination with ease.
6. P1 & P4 liked to take the print-out of the directions even in places they were not
driving as they wanted to make sure that the taxi-driver was not cheating them and taking them
through the shortest route.
Currently used method to obtain driving directions: All participants stated that
they ask people on the streets to help them locate a place in Mumbai. 2 participants mentioned
that they have not seen anyone using maps in Mumbai. However, P3 mentioned that although
she has never tried using online maps she occasionally uses actual/ paper map for directions.
Last time she used a map was about 4 months ago when she wanted to reach a place that was
50 miles away from her house. P3 also mentioned a phone service called ‘Ask me’ which she
uses very often. This telephone service gives her names, phone nos. and directions for all
movie theatres, hospitals, banks etc. in Mumbai. She stated that she would love to go online to
obtain this information instead of calling this service and repeating her personal information
each time she called them.
It was surprising to see that even though half the participants showed interest in using
this online service, they have never actually tried using it. None of them were aware that other
mapping websites like Yahoo Maps and Mapsmyindia.com were already offering this service.
Only, P8 mentioned that he unexpectedly found driving directions from Mumbai to a near-by hill
station (Lonavala) while surfing on internet, however, it was a blogging site and the textual
instructions were very difficult to follow.
Comments on using route planner in Mumbai: 4 participants had an extremely
favorable response to this service. P2 – “Would love to have Google maps here! I will not have
to rely on other people and I can reach the place faster”. They sounded thrilled and stated that
they were looking forward for this service to launch in Mumbai. Other 4 participants did not
sound very receptive of this service. Almost all participants were concerned about how this
service will adapt to Mumbai’s unplanned and inconsistent roads.
a) Conditions in which service will be helpful: Most participants indicated that they would
like to use this service for long distances within the city as well as to travel from Mumbai to
nearby cities. One participate stated that Google Maps would be extremely helpful as an
alternate way to check for directions in places where people speak different languages (for e.g.
Local people from nearby cities such as Nasik, Pune speak Marathi, but not all people from
Mumbai understand Marathi). Participants also mentioned that if Google could capture the traffic
on the roads and suggest an alternate route to reach a destination it would be very useful.
b) Preferred presentation of driving directions: 4 participants indicated that they would
like more visual representation of the route. One participant stated that in Mumbai she would
like to take print out of only the visual map where entire route will be highlighted, so that even if
there are no street names, she would still be able to follow the directions. 3 Participants would
Google Maps in Mumbai 8
like to use landmark-based directions in Mumbai. P2 stated that they currently rely a lot on
landmarks to locate a place and would like online maps to work in a similar manner.
c) How often will service be used? 5 participants mentioned that they would use this
service whenever they plan to drive to an unfamiliar place. 3 of the participants clearly stated
that they will never like to use this service as they don’t think it will be able to capture Mumbai’s
d) Concerns/ challenges they think this service will face in Mumbai: Participants voiced
out many concerns about why they thought this service may not work. 4 of them mentioned that
Mumbai has complex road structure and numerous lanes that cut each other, and to give all this
information online would be cumbersome. Some of them mentioned that people in Mumbai are
most often not aware of the official street names. Participants were also worried about how
Google will update its website in a place where roads are closed without prior notice for
construction, religious processions etc.
The following chart illustrates the most common concerns people in Mumbai have about
this online service.
Perceived ‘value’ attached to route planner: The average perceived value
attached to route planner in Mumbai is 3. Most participants mentioned that this service would be
very valuable if it is ‘done well’. 2 participants mentioned that this service will allow them to
reach their destination faster. P2 thinks this service will be worthwhile as by knowing how much
time it will take to reach a particular place beforehand will help him manage his time better.
To conclude, even though most participants were looking forward to this service, they
were concerned about how this service will adapt to their city. It is recommended that Google
Maps addresses these concerns before launching its service.
The trends observed in these Phone interviews will be used to set up the topics for the
upcoming Online Focus Group sessions. It is also suggested that future research be conducted
on the mapping websites that already exist in Mumbai. This will provide valuable feedback
about how people use these websites and their likes/dislikes about the presentation of driving
Google Maps in Mumbai 9
1. Arun (2007, October 30) Mapping India: Making the Impossible, Possible. Message
posted to http://trak.in/tags/business/2007/10/30/indian-locations-map-services/
2. Courage, C., & Baxter, K. (2005). Understanding Your Users- A practical guide to user
requirements. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaumann Publishers.
3. Kuniavsky, M. (2003) Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User
Research. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
4. Usability Professional’s Association. Usability Body of Knowledge-Methods. Retrieved
16 June, 2008 from http://www.usabilitybok.org/methods