Rand McNally

Blazing a path for the smart car.
Summer 2015
User Research
User Experience
App Design

Rand McNally has been revolutionizing the way people travel for almost two centuries. Did you know that they developed the U.S. Highway number system, among many other cool things?

Device user interface


The next challenge in transportation is bringing a smart car to the masses. Rand McNally’s vision for this included a new connected car device called OverDryve. It’s an in-car tablet that allows drivers to talk, text, navigate, and much more — all by using innovative touch and voice controls.

I worked with the in-house product, design, and engineering teams to lead and define the entire user experience for this new device. In doing so, we tackled unique challenges. The solutions we developed quickly became industry standards.

User personas Personas and sponsor users


The company’s loyal customer base was a great asset in the initial discovery phase. We involved real users right from the start with testing at every fidelity level. Their feedback provided accuracy to our personas and proposed use cases.

Similar initiatives such as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay were still in development at that time. The auto industry was just starting to experiment with some of these features. There was little to work with as far as existing standards.

Wireframes sketches


There was a lot of experimentation and innovation. As with any pioneering interface, the focus was on making it easy to use. The initial setup sequence was crucial in getting everyone going — at all levels of tech savvy. All features had to be usable without taking away the driver’s focus from the road ahead.

Recorded user testing sessions informed early design decisions


All that work paid out. Reviewers often list ease-of-use as one of the things they liked the most about the device. As always, designing with the customer in mind can provide unique competitive advantages.

A very capable GPS and easier to user than most.

It was literally a click-and-go moment.

I was very surprised that I was able to follow the OverDryve setup process which believe it or not was pretty easy.

It's all pretty intuitive.

OverDryve is made for the cars and it excels at it.

— Online product reviews


As iterations gained more and more fidelity, we moved from paper prototypes to interactive mockups, to on-device code. Throughout the entire process, I maintained consistency by documenting patterns and elements. Essential design elements were added to the mix to create the base for a design system.

High fidelity wireframes


Final deliverables were the full set of high-fidelity wireframes and flows. I also presented suggestions for the user interface design. These pushed the bar to form a future vision for Rand McNally’s interfaces and design language. An implementation roadmap was also provided to help the internal teams realize the vision.

User interface exploration

OverDryve posted good sales numbers and scored various awards and positive press. Most importantly, it became a successful pioneer on the road to making smart cars a reality. Many of its features made their way across the platforms that are making our daily drives safer and more fun.