An illustration by what3words’ Niki Forecast representing 20 or so diverse characters, from a delivery driver checking a what3words address on his phone to a visually-impaired person using the app on a wearable device.
An illustration by what3words’ Niki Forecast representing 20 or so diverse characters, from a delivery driver checking a what3words address on his phone to a visually-impaired person using the app on a wearable device.

by Gigi Etienne, Accessibility Partnerships at what3words

Bringing accessibility to what3words has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. It has been and continues to be a huge team effort. I’ve been working on accessibility for a year and here are some of the things I’ve learnt along the way:

1. Accessibility is a journey, not a goal. Accessibility is not something you ‘reach’. Just like any digital product, there will always be more improvements to make, especially because you continue to release new features.

2. Building a culture that prioritises accessibility is the key to success…

Getting around safely in COVID times.

by David Shakory, Director of Partnerships at what3words

If there’s one vital thing we’ve learnt during the Corona-crisis, it’s that people need and want to travel swiftly, accurately and with as little contact with others as possible right now.

I know that I’ve become hyper-aware of how much time I spend out in the world. I’m only really comfortable when I can reach my destination making minimal contact with other people. I’m planning my journeys with far more care than usual, but there are always factors outside your control.

A friend in London recently told me how a supposedly simple…

by Iannish Posooa, Senior Product Designer at what3words

Across the world confusing addressing systems result in millions lost and livelihoods being affected, sometimes in fatal ways. what3words provides a global addressing standard that aims to solve these issues. This article will focus on why and how to scale a product design system. We’ll cover where we started, how to grow it internally and making it accessible externally.

1. Where we started

Stop designing in isolation!

It’s not a product design system if you’re the only one using it on a single product. Primary dark blue with Light font might seem like an important decision in isolation but starting…

by Clare Jones, Chief Commercial Officer at what3words

We don’t make money through our app or website. They are free for people to discover and share what3words addresses.

We don’t just want people to use our own apps, though. We want people to be able to use what3words addresses wherever they would use a traditional address — in a ride-hailing or mapping app, when ordering online, when navigating in their car. We therefore provide code to businesses so they can integrate what3words functionality into their own maps, apps and websites.

We make money by licensing our API to businesses.

Businesses…

by Josh Wigmore, Chief Product Officer at what3words

You might not have ever associated HTML input boxes with being complicated. Yes — they’re functional for getting user input into a form, and yes — they vary from free text to suggested drop-down lists as you type, but generally, they’re just an input field.

The what3words AutoSuggest component proved different.

But first, what exactly is what3words Autosuggest?
It’s an API function that our customers use to return a set of intelligent results when a user partially or fully types in a what3words address.

by Ivan Pols, Creative Director at what3words

A cafe window with a red sign displaying a what3words address in Chinese
A cafe window with a red sign displaying a what3words address in Chinese

It was the right time for the right question

I really love startup life.

It’s one of the few times in the life cycle of a company when we can all dream big and try to achieve the impossible.

It’s also a time when we ask ourselves a lot of questions; about the product, about our story, and about the users. A good question at the right time can be incredibly valuable.

Back in 2016, what3words had two very good questions.

Could we explain the idea of what3words (3m squares identified with 3 random words from the dictionary) with the logo?

How…

by Niki Forecast, Senior Product Designer at what3words

At what3words our aim is to become a global standard. We therefore need to make our service accessible to as much of the world’s population as possible, and a recent focus has been South Africa. This is because South Africa has an incredibly diverse population, with both ends of the income spectrum being affected by poor addressing. Those in affluent areas struggle to get parcels delivered, or to tell guests how to find their accommodation. …

Illustration is on the rise in digital design. As digital services and products have become more abstract and hard to visualise, brands are using it as a core part of their visual identity to support key messaging, make their products easier to understand and improve consumer sentiment.

When distinctive, illustration can set a brand or product apart from competitors and can even be more recognisable than a logo. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using illustration purely for aesthetics. Generic stock illustrations are often used in design purely because they ‘brighten up the page’.

In this article…

by Niki Forecast, Senior Product Designer at what3words

what3words has an incredibly international user base. This year, people in 193 countries have been using our app for everything from planning meetups with friends to finding their airbnbs, easier car navigation, smoother deliveries and a faster emergency response.

But making an app available to an international audience successfully is not easy. There are hurdles to overcome in every region. It can be expensive and a never ending rabbit hole. …

by Niki Forecast, Senior Product Designer at what3words

Last month our team released v.4.0 of the what3words app for iOS and Android. The defining feature was a complete overhaul of the design and UX — a result of analysing our app data from Firebase and a great deal of user testing.

As one of the Senior Product Designers at what3words, I support the Product Team in evolving the design and UX of our products. These include the what3words app for iOS and Android, online map, 3WordPhoto app, and Developer Portal. Day to day I create rapid prototypes to demo new…

what3words

what3words is the simplest way to talk about location. It has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares, each with a unique 3 word address.

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