Danny Balgley
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Google Maps · Group Planning


Group Planning on Google Maps


Planning a meal with a group can be hard. We usually start a group chat, make some suggestions, disagree and then eventually all agree on a single place to go. Also, the barrage of urls and links to restaurants & bars can be overwhelming.

Not only is it annoying to tap into various web/app links and then return to the chat, it’s also tricky to compare places side by side. Once a decision has made, we then use different apps to find a reservation, look up dishes, and navigate to the place. As part of the UX team on Google Maps we simplified this process into a holistic experience from beginning to end, making planning a meal with a group of friends fun and easy.


MY Role

“Group planning” was considered a key part of the Geo Discovery effort for 2018 to make Google Maps the best-in-class for finding & discovering places. I was the UX feature lead, working with a close knit team of engineers, researchers and product leads. I was tasked with spearheading design ideation & strategy, working closely with research, wiring & prototyping, refining and solidifying the final design.

Our Users & Mission

Young City Dwellers (18-34) because they are half our users, they’re the fastest-growing urban population, and they are early adopters of technology. They also tend to dine-out with friends on the weekends, meet a friend for dinner on the weekdays and they rely on digital tools to help make dining decisions. Our mission was:
” to help users collaborate and plan a meal with someone soon.”




Research & User Journey Mapping

Working with researchers we conducted weekly iterative studies in-lab to gauge baseline user habits around the group dining user journey. Through these in-depth studies we were able to determine the key pain points and currently unmet user needs. After mapping our ideal user flows, we were then able to delineate success metrics based on specific user actions and conversions.

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Wireframes & Flows








Design Exploration


Final Design for V1


Introducing “Group Planning”,  a shortlist feature within GMM that both enables users to set places aside while using the app and then also share the set to collaborate and vote with friends.



Get started on the fly

To create a shortlist simply long press on any place UI anywhere within GMM. This will generate your shortlist. As you search in GMM keep adding to this shortlist by simply long-pressing.


Access your shortlist bubble anywhere

Throughout GMM as you continue searching for great options, the shortlist bubble will remain persistent and movable.



View your shortlist

At any point within GMM you can tap the bubble UI to open your shortlist. Here you can remove places, toggle to a map view, and when ready save or share the list with friends.

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Share the shortlist in your existing chat threads

In a few simple taps you can share your GMM shortlist in any existing chat.

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Collaborate & Vote

Once shared friends and family can up/down vote options, add more places, and help to arrive at a group decision. The top voted places get a badge as votes roll in!



“Group Planning” at Google’s 2018 I/O

Group planning was a featured highlight in the Google Maps section of the Google 2018 I/O presentation. It is considered a key part of Geo Discovery, our 2018 goal to make Google Maps the best-in-class for finding & discovering places.  

Group planning starts at the 1:22:14 mark: