Ecofriendly Case in Google Maps

Gergo Kondor
5 min readApr 28, 2022

Ethical design has a crucial role in products that reach millions of people on a daily basis. They need to be role models for others. When I am talking about ethical design, it means more than data privacy. It has more levels, but those digital products that can influence our physical life and have a high impact have increased responsibility. Within this topic, the eco-friendly feature of Google Maps is a gorgeous example.

A couple of months back, I was thinking about why I need to go on 15+extra miles for 3 min on the highway if I am using Google Maps. I have had an idea about a solution, but it was a pleasure to see in the US the users got in a decision-maker position in this dilemma. So this whole new routing option has released last October.


I can’t wait to see it in the EU as well. So thank you, Google, for caring about this near and dear topic to my heart.

As I saw this feature, just an enhancement idea came across my mind.

Concerning the real-life usage

From an interaction point of view, It’s pretty straightforward and easily adaptable. Life may never be simple, and covering all the possible scenarios is nearly impossible. To be this feature as helpful as possible, three data need to be in symbiosis.

  • Planned arrival time
  • Difference between primary and ecofriendly
  • Correlation between plus eco minutes and available journey timeframe

Let’s assume I need to be at the theatre at 6:30 PM. The current time is 5:32 PM, and I’ve got two options: a well-known 51min route and an unknown 57min route. My first concern is the app has no information about the planned arrival time. It means I need to calculate which option can fit my timing on my own. Eventually, an eco-friendly mode is always a secondary option and offers possible unknown routes. Unfortunately, it causes some fear of the novel, and people face an extra cognitive load in considering arrival time calculation. So, what we are winning in fuel, we weaken the app experience.

Current flow:

People are using mental models mainly in things that they are frequently using. The first case scenario, when people tap the primary route without any consideration, we are humans, making things as short as possible. These are all just simple unconscious habits.

My approach would be a slight enhancement to this feature. I would give the wheel to people’s hands and the opportunity to decide how many minutes they tend to save to get a fuel-efficient way to the primary.

People should be able to set preferred minutes within the settings. They need to do it only once instead of unnecessary math every time at an eco-friendly selection.

After people set it up, all searches will use it as a preference. It means eco-friendly routes that match expendable minutes will be the primary route. However, it won’t be misleading as the fastest option is always there as a secondary.

What are the possible benefits of the proposal?

  • Because of the timing calculation, users won’t get an extra cognitive load at every search.
  • The opportunity to select the quickest route will remain at the fingertips, and if someone is in a hurry, tap the lowest number on the UI without any consideration.
  • This mental model supports my theory that users will meet less unnecessary cognitive load if we make the eco-friendly mode more finetuned and switch it to primary.
  • Enough to set up it once, and eco-friendly will be the default one within our defined timeframe.
  • Moreover, we give the wheel to the people’s hands to get the privilege of deciding how many extra minutes they tend to lose to save fuel.
  • Via this privilege, they feel more connected to the product.
  • The adoption is also not painful, as they have already met with the current solution. People need to try how they can apply it in their daily commute.

In conclusion, requiring people to calculate how the eco-friendly mode fits their real-life arrival time can cause extra frustration. Mainly with new unknown routes. It can keep this feature secondary forever with the possibility of all time skipping pattern. Firstly, it would seem further complexity to the feature, but it results in more simplicity in the actual usage in the long run. Via the new settings option o, it would probably boost their feature engagement.

Bear in mind the basis of this idea is just my top-of-mind experience with how people consume suggested options and google maps. I am not reinventing the wheel, but hopefully, I could show another perspective to see it and test how it can be more efficient.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find it insightful!

Next, in this topic, I will deep dive into the driver lifecycle profiles… 🚗.

👋 Cheers,