Headline Compass

What if route planning wasn’t focussed on the fastest, or the most efficient route? What if a detour wasn’t a drawback, but a feature? This research project explores a community-driven approach to route creation – and showcases the findings in a mobile app that aggregates location-based data for a more intuitive planning experience.

My roles
UX Research
UX Design
A hand holding a futuristic smartphone. The screen shows the route creation flow in the Compass app

Planning a route, be it for a road trip or a longer bike ride, can be a tedious process. It involves finding inspiration on social media or blogs, using documents or a bookmark manager to collect everything in a central place, and then leveraging online mapping services to calculate the actual route. The current experience is fragmented, involving a lot of back-and-forth between a broad variety of services. AI tools like Google Gemini or ChatGPT make the user's life a little easier by quickly aggregating information from around the web. However, they mostly provide one-shot text answers that fail to capture the joy of discovering and exploring new places.

Compass aims to solve this by connecting location-based fragments from around the web to create personal routes.

The core of the service is a 4-directional feed that mimics a compass and allows the user to explore and save new route fragments based on their location.

A hand holding a futuristic smartphone. The screen shows a route created with the Compass app

Compass generates routes that reflect the user's collected content and a set of personal preferences like length, difficulty, or setting.

A route created with the Compass service

Route planning

Unlike other route planning services Compass doesn’t put the map front and center, but rather presents routes in a more visual way. Maps still exist, but they mostly serve as a way to confirm the final route. So instead of moving around rather abstract pins on a map, the user can add or remove individual route fragments, thereby altering the experience in a tangible way. Compass' ultimate goal was to deliver a quick and automated approach to route planning while always allowing the user to understand and tweak the data points involved.

A hand holding a futuristic smartphone. The screen shows a user profile in the Compass app

Divided into four distinct sections, the app enables the user to quickly switch between collecting new fragments and organizing them into routes.

While the approach to route planning is highly unique, organizing and sharing content relies on patterns also found in other content aggregation services. This creates familiarity and strikes a balance with more experimental features like the eponymous compass.

A screenshot of the Compass appA screenshot of the Compass appA screenshot of the Compass app
A service ecology map for an early version of compass


The Compass mobile app is embedded into a broader research project and only showcases a fraction of the actual findings. This multi-quarter effort utilized both quantitative and qualitative research methods to define a new approach to route planning. To make the process more tangible, I visualized my findings using stakeholder maps, customer journey maps, prototypes, blueprints, and other service design tools.  A selection of visual fragments from this process is included below, with the full research process available on my Medium channel (German-only).

A graphic for a service experience that was explored as an alternative to Compass. The graphic shows a car on 3-dimensional fragmented road. The title reads 'Rent A Story'
A service blueprint for an early version of Compass


The product direction significantly evolved throughout the research phases, transforming from a stationary car-brand-specific service offering into the final mobile app it is today. The visuals showcased here offer a glimpse into the various approaches and product names my work explored throughout the project. And as previously mentioned: while the app itself is a key outcome of the design process, a considerable portion of my effort focused on understanding potential customers and markets through interviews, shadowing sessions, and other research tools.

A graphic for a service experience that was explored as an alternative to Compass. The graphic shows fragments of a city arranged in a grid. The title reads 'Hidden Cities'
A graphic showing the targeted user groups for an early version of Compass
A STEEP analysis for an early version of CompassA user journey map for the Compass project

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