redesign | ux: How would you improve this Google Maps experience?

This quiz if focused on the items shown in the picture, specifically Budget and Avis. (Judging from the Twitter answers, that was unclear.)

Frequent travelers often rent cars. This involves picking up the car and eventually returning the car. Google could automatically track where you began your rental (in my case, Avis). When you want to return to the airport, instead of directing you to the airport terminal, it could automatically guide you back to the rental car return. One way to do this is to use GPS trace data. i.e. look at the paths of people who have rented from Avis and look at where they return the car.

Bonus points for showing me the last gas station on the route so that I don’t get stuck paying $9 a gallon to have the car rental company refill the tank. (Travel tip: You should almost never accept the prepaid fuel option.)

Some Twitter answers that reflect other issues with Google Maps.

redesignAnswer: The trapezoidal package contained an iMac



From Skitch (3)


This package contained an iMac.

There are two things wrong with this packaging:

  • The trapezoidal shape doesn’t stack or fit well in delivery trucks.
  • Very few packages come in a trapezoidal shape. Thieves are more likely to notice this and assume that it contains a high-value item. (And they’d be right a large portion of the time.)

redesignAnswer: My first transaction on Amazon was for $300

Amazon local balance

In testing the new Amazon Local Register yesterday, my first transaction was for $300.

Amazon didn’t make any money on this transaction. (Nor will they make money on a lot of the transactions on Amazon Local Register at the 1.75% rate.)

There was a mistake in the original image of my transaction. (Sort of.) I needed to show the card and the original load value, so I made the card facing forward. In order for it to actually read the card, the mag stripe needs to be facing the camera.


redesignAnswer: The Square/PayPal charge was to cash out balance on PayPal debit card

The purpose of the transaction on Friday was to use up the remaining value of a PayPal debit card that I had purchased for test purposes. The PayPal debit card is a poor value compared with products like Walgreens Balance Financial and American Express’s Bluebird. T-Mobile customers also have a better value with T-Mobile’s prepaid card.

PayPal charges a monthly fee of $5. Rather than paying another fee, I decided to use up the remaining balance by charging myself with Square.

The total transaction amount was $3.75. Square did not make a profit on the transaction. (Come on, you know me! Did you really think I’d let Square make a profit?)

A number of people commented that I made a mistake by leaving my debit card number in plain view. I don’t make such mistakes. My credit card numbers in social media are like sideboob on TV: you think you’re seeing something, but you’re not. If you see a credit or debit card number, it’s a clue. (In this case, a clue that there was no money on the card.)

redesignAnswer: If you’re selling birthday candles, put matches or a lighter nearby

photo (10)


This is another question that got a variety of interesting answers.

What I was going for is to put matches or lighters near the candles. If you’re rushing to get party supplies, you want the toothpicks that say “Happy Bday,” candles, balloons … and something to light the candles with. There isn’t even a note that says where the matches are. I had to find someone to tell me they were all the way on the other side of the store.

Other comments from the survey:

  • The items are pushed back. They should be close to the front of the peg.
  • There is no alignment among the different items.
  • Candles are on two pegs. But the top peg is clearly intended for something else. At $1.57 vs. $2.79, people would be upset.
  • Green is an ugly color for a background.

Although the focus of the question was on the retail display, I’d also fix the packaging/bundling.

For the candles, I’d include a few matches. Maybe use the back of the card for a striker.

The sparklers (the black things) look ridiculous and boring. From a distance, you have no idea what they are. I’d have a background with sparkles on it.

Our Victor Marks writes:

Use planogram software that reflects the actual size of items on the peg. The black item is taller and throws the whole display off. Also, don’t put pegs up so high that they ruin your header decoration (party)


redesignAnswer: There’s no reason for Walgreens to put gift cards behind the counter

From Skitch


There is a lot wrong with this display. But the biggest thing is that there’s no reason to put all of those gift cards behind the counter.

Gift cards are worth nothing until they are activated. There’s no reason to put them in a “secure” area. Many of these are impulse purchases. They should be placed somewhere prominent (endcaps are the most frequent placement) so people can browse them and find just the right gift card for the person they are buying for. Cigarettes and other high value items should be behind the counter; not things that have no inherent value.

Other things that are wrong with this display:

  • It looks like a cluttered mess.
  • There’s no discernible organization to the gift cards.
  • From a visual perspective, having the ToysRUs gift card hanging off on an acrylic shelf is ugly.
  • There’s a sign saying that gift cards are cash only. Walgreens POS is programmed to let store gift cards be sold by credit card.

This is among the worst Walgreens that I’ve been to. The overall merchandising at this store is poor.

Most are much nicer. Walgreens also does a great job at picking the right merchandise for each location — much better than most retailers.