I needed to get some directions so I decided to try out Bing Maps instead of Google Maps this time around.
I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Bing Maps couldn’t even locate the general area (country) I was looking for directions in.
It turns out this is because of a seriously stupid UI design in Bing – Bing presents two different search fields side by side, with only 1 pixel separating them with a common action button for both.
Default focus goes to the search field for Business name or category. My eye was drawn (and still is drawn) to the Location, or search for locations field and associated search button. See image below:
They need to better separate those two fields and make it clearer which one you are using – having separate search buttons / icons for each would be a good start.
As well, would it be so hard to have some rudimentary disambiguation algorithm that notices you are entering an address and not a business name. I am pretty sure that 14 gran via, madrid, spain is sufficiently distinct from mcdonalds, madrid, spain that they can figure out you meant an address instead of a business (not that mcdonalds, madrid, spain works anyway).
Update 10-April-2012: I just noticed that this is a deliberate design decision and only affects certain browsers. When I checked Bing maps (to see if they had fixed the problem), I was using the FireFox browser and it looked like they had fixed it:
When I checked it with Internet Explorer, the stupid UI design was still there. This dumb UI will also be displayed if you are using the Opera browser.
So the UI is browser dependent. Clearly, Microsoft wants to drive away users who use Microsoft Internet Explorer.