Local Guides is a global recognition program for creators on Google Maps—those who help others make more confident decisions about where to go and what to do by adding content like reviews, photos, and edits to the map. Google Maps has over 1 billion users and Local Guides, at 20M+ strong, contribute more than half of the content in Google Maps.
Our goals with our Lithium-powered platform
We launched LocalGuidesConnect.com to unify our user engagement experience in a central site vs the distributed experience across various social platforms. We know that an engaged community member is more likely (about 8x) to stay retained in our program and contribute content to Google Maps on a regular basis. We wanted to provide a space where users could connect to each other, to us, and to resources to improve their overall experience.
Elements we implemented
With Google’s move to everything Material Design, we wanted to make sure our community site reflected that aesthetic. You’ll see the clear indicators in the white space, iconography, badges, and even color choices.
We also wanted the community to feel connected to product (Google Maps). The left hand navigation under the “hamburger menu” works like Google Maps, opening a navigation tray that also links to our blog and “home” where a user can manage their Local Guides account.
Location is really important to our program, so we incorporated the Google Places API to allow users to tag their posts and replies to real world locations. This also helps serve up locally relevant content to s user in search and based on their location.
As a bonus, we incorporated custom imagery we created for our social channel banners and a content campaign into our headers on our community platform to visually connect the different places our users may connect with us on. Fun Fact: The “icons” are actually real objects an artist made for us out of thick paper. We photographed each one and compiled them into the imagery you see.
How we executed
We worked closely with the Lithium Design and Development Team to wireframe and build our site with three key asks in mind:
It had to reflect Google’s material design aesthetic. This means keeping things clean and simple to use.
It needed to be mobile responsive as so many of our global users don’t use (or even have) desktop computers. We see about a 50/50 split in traffic from mobile vs desktop globally, but a much higher mobile % in developing countries.
It had to feel like an extension of Google Maps. We incorporated navigation elements and APIs and facilitate the discovery of locally relevant content and users.