HYPOTHESIS

Interstate Logos is one of a select few approved vendors for the US Department of Transportation tasked with creating the classic blue navigation signs at interstate exits across the United States. We partnered with their digital team to create a whitelabel version of our popular RoadNinja app to promote state tourism and commerce at locations along the interstate. We launched the Interstate Logos app suite with just two states in mind, then grew the stable of apps to 7 states.

SERVICES UTILIZED

EXPERIMENT

Our focus was on developing a digital companion to the interstate exit roadsign – by making the same location-level data on the physical Tourist Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) available to travelers on their mobile devices. Given the critical success of the RoadNinja app and our partnership venture with the billboard giant, LAMAR Outdoor — we started with it’s core functionality as a structure, and we worked with Interstate Logos team to prioritize features to include in the new mobile apps.

Our experience mapping locations to interstate exits proved especially useful — and we started the project with a working data structure for the interstate highway and exit data. The Interstate Logos team provided a complete database of business listings and locations along the interstate system for the states they serve. We imported their dataset and created a new frontend for the web and mobile interfaces.

Visual Design Iteration:
Two rounds of visual design iteration followed, allowing us to test the legibility of fonts:
We compared the Interstate typeface (based on the US interstate type used for DOT interstate wayfinding), versus standard Helvetica and native mobile typefaces. Additionally, we tested blue-field layouts (skeuomorphically linked to the classic blue interstate signage), versus light and dark-field treatments for layouts — which could be optimized for daytime and nighttime driving.

screenshot of interstate logos showing a map of the website

VISUAL VARIATION: LIGHT / DARK

TECHNOLOGY STACK

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Native App for Apple, Android Devices
Objective-C was used to develop a native Apple iOS application. Android SDK provided development libraries to build a native Android app.

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Google Maps API
Google Maps is used to show POI locations on maps and allows access to Google Maps Street View. Additional engineering was required to accurately follow course at interstate interchanges.

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Fast, Secure and Scalable Search
Elastic search powers the app’s search functionality.

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Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails MVC framework provides default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages.

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RailsAdmin
RailsAdmin engine that provides the administrative back end for managing app promotions plus highway & exit data.

ANALYSIS

Interstate Logos reached out in 2013 to create their first two apps — and over the past 4 years — we’ve subsequently built apps for 5 additional states on the platform since. Also, given that the application structure was established in the first ILO project, it was possible to keep a relatively low, fixed cost for additional states added to the app suite. We’re pleased with the Interstate Logos partnership – allowing us to work with repeat clients that appreciate our work — and to help promote local businesses and tourism across our national interstates.

BY THE NUMBERS

7 Apps

In partnership with Interstate Logos, we built 7 state-based apps to support their interstate transportation programs.

12k Locations

Listing over 12,500k individual business locations, across 5 categories: Food, Gas, Lodging, Attractions, Camping.