Delivering intelligence:Uber navigation


This year, our team completed a design overhaul of our entire navigation system. Navigation is central to Uber’s mission of connecting people and places, and we were determined to offer the best possible tools to help our driver-partners do just that.

Driving with Uber is not like traditional driving, and that difference needs to be built in to the foundation of Uber’s navigation experience. Through an extensive research process filled with driver interviews and feedback sessions, as well as in-depth physical and real-world prototyping, our team developed a suite of unique features to help our driver partners to get from point A to point B and on to point Z.

Team department

Cartography team

Join our team

Team members / roles

  • Evelyn Kim - Sr. ​Design Manager
  • Cady Wachsman - Design Manager
  • Christine Tao - User Researcher
  • Bo Paweena Attayadmawittaya - Product Designer
  • Oliver Lukman - Product Designer
  • Janice Suhji​ - Product Designer
  • Josh Inch - Product Designer
  • Launched

    March 2017

    Team members / roles

    • Evelyn Kim - Sr. ​Design Manager
    • Cady Wachsman - Design Manager
    • Christine Tao - User Researcher
    • Bo Paweena Attayadmawittaya - Product Designer
    • Oliver Lukman - Product Designer
    • Janice Suhji​ - Product Designer
    • Josh Inch - Product Designer

    The challenge

    For most drivers in most situations, your trip is a simple one: you’ve got a starting point, a destination, and you want to find the best route between the two. The End.

    When driving with Uber, however, it’s not quite so simple: the driver and the rider must first come together, then head to the rider’s destination, and then the driver must be ready for their next pickup. With services like uberPOOL and uberEATS, navigation gets even more complicated.

    When it came to something as central as navigation, we knew how important it was to get things right.


    Our process

    To make sure we were offering drivers the best navigation possible, we designed with the driver squarely in mind.

    Day mode
    Night mode

    Designing for drivers

    We conducted extensive driver interviews, participated in ride alongs and simulations, held in-office forums, shared prototypes, and above all else, listened to drivers’ likes and dislikes – what was working for them, what wasn’t, and what could be better.

    Extensive physical and real-world prototyping and testing

    We built an in-office simulator, complete with a gaming wheel controller, videos of typical driving scenarios, and a timed navigation prototype.

    To really get a feel for the physical, we even built a scale 3D map of Amsterdam out of paper.

    But we didn’t stop there. We sent our team across the US and all over the world, equipped with navigation prototypes and cameras, to see what happened when rubber met the road.

    Design system: source of truth

    What’s next?

    Unlike traditional navigation apps, Uber Navigation has to help users answer the question “What’s next?” Once a driver successfully completes one trip, the navigation has to be ready with the best route for the next trip. We also needed to differentiate between types of locations and activities (e.g. pickups vs. dropoffs), so we designed distinct visuals to cover the variety of actions a driver might take on different legs of a trip.

    UI components

    Custom cartography, maneuver iconography (e.g. arrows), pins, side-of-street indicators, route line previews, and camera animations all work together to explain the journey.

    Roads and highway shields

    We created around 65 different shield background designs. Multiply this by the different length and zoom levels we’re maintaining around 800 individual assets.

    “Glanceability and tappability”

    The “3-Foot-1-Second” Rule is a good example of the design considerations we took into account: drivers are looking at a smartphone-sized screen from about three feet away, for about one second at a time. This means that “glanceability” and “tappability” are priorities. At every point, we needed to answer the question: “what is the essential information that the driver needs right now?”

    To keep necessary interactions at a minimum, we built in a single-tap gesture to toggle between the overview and first person navigation, or to zoom to the destination point.

    Making the complex clear

    The Uber Navigation overhaul is tailor-made for drivers, and we’re not done yet. Every day, we’re collecting great constructive feedback from drivers, and now that we’ve rolled out our starting lineup, we’re excited for the design possibilities to come.

    We’re so proud of and thankful to everyone who made this happen. Not only designers, but engineers, researchers, product managers, and most of all, the drivers, whose continued participation is invaluable.

    Find the perfect fit

    We’re looking for talented creatives from all disciplines. Our team is focused on creating beautiful, functional designs that fit people’s lives. We’d love for you to join us.

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    © 2018 Uber Technologies Inc.