Interactive mapping websites: Finding simplicity on the other side of complexity
After monitoring eight years of use statistics on approaching 100 interactive mapping websites on our MapGeo platform*, we’ve observed that the majority of users don’t stray too far from the default content and basic features. Most users spend their time searching for and looking up properties, but don’t often markup maps, print maps, or exercise other interactive features.
Event frequency statistics for November 2017 from 95 interactive web mapping sites on AppGeo’s MapGeo platform.
The key question: Does the low level of use of interactive web map capabilities tell us that we’ve made something unnecessarily complex that should be simple?
At AppGeo, our perspective is (and has always been) that MapGeo is a communication platform for local government that serves many diverse audiences: the general public, residents, businesses, visitors, and, of course, our customers’ departmental staff. Their different interests lead them to want to explore and interact with MapGeo in very different ways.
Although most users do not care about/need/understand the full range of interactivity and content on any given MapGeo site, nevertheless, some users do.
The challenge, as we see it, is not to eliminate the interactivity that people are not using all that often, but to make it possible for different types of users to find and interact with the features they need, starting with the most common types of interaction, such as search and map navigation, and information display.
We call this “finding the simplicity on the other side of complexity”. In other words, we want the majority of users to get what they need easily, without sacrificing the more complex needs of the minority of users, who may have to work a little harder.
For MapGeo, this translates into AppGeo’s continuous efforts to simplify the UI and UX. It also involves taking time to work with customers to optimize their MapGeo experience for specific use cases. For example, by adding useful, authoritative data themes (such as historical zoning maps, plans or imagery), planning staff can explore, compare, markup and share their analysis with other staff as part of a larger comprehensive planning workflow.
In this recorded webinar, AppGeo’s Jessica Chen, along with Carto’s Joe Pringle, describes several ways that distinct types of users are interacting with their MapGeo web mapping platform, and how local government can realize greater value from interactive mapping.
*AppGeo has been growing our MapGeo community for almost eight years and monitoring use statistics on a monthly basis. We created a way to monitor usage of all site features/interactivity that provides insight into which tools, data, and features are being used on any given MapGeo site in aggregate over time.