Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Map to the power of Quest?

When was the last time you used MapQuest? Anyone? I think the last time I ventured to that site was through a link on an out of date website. Any other time, I'm all about Google Maps. That's not to say Google Maps is perfect, it's not. Google has led me to the complete wrong location a couple of times, but in the past few years, regardless of Google Maps' mistakes it has swept the internet mapping market. I want to say the shift began when Google introduced Street View and continued as Google Maps was automatically included on iPhones and Blackberrys. Then came walking and biking directions, the ability to shift your route, automatically giving you alternate routes and times and the live traffic feed.

Well, MapQuest has finally revamped, a couple of years late, but they're trying nonetheless. They have a new logo and a revdesigned website. First off, the new logo is definitely an improvement. I like it, thought as mentioned in Brand New's review, I originally saw M to the Q, which I really liked, until the video showed me the little MQ creature thing. Now that's all I see and I kind of liked the other direction better. Oh well. The logo itself seems to be molded around being a good icon, like an iPhone or iPad icon, which is a little different, but smart approach. The new logo overall is secondary to how the MQ functions as an icon and all in all, much improved.

The new MapQuest website is also much improved, though the real question is if it can recapture some of Google Maps market share. The revamping makes me want to give it a shot again, but unless it proves to be significantly more accurate than Google Maps, a switch back is doubtful. While they've finally incorporated some of the perks of Google Maps, like traffic and street view (though Google's is on a larger scale). They've also copied a few other features like customizable printed maps. While MapQuest is touting some of it's features that Google doesn't have, like saving your own maps, they're relatively small things I don't see a huge amount of use for. The little icon buttons that show ATMs and Gas Stations are nice though—I can definitely see the use for that if I needed something like that on the go, however, I see that mostly useful for a phone app and other popular applications, like Siri, already have that covered. The biggest lack in the new design, is if they were going to copy so much of Google's features, they really should have worked in the walking, public transporation and biking directions that Google has. Honestly, I think those are one of Google's best features.

Overall, the website, logo and icon are nicely designed, but in terms of functionality, it's hard not to feel like MapQuest is trying desperately to play catch up to Google Maps. What do you think?

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