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First Attempt at an Interactive Map- Critique

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#1
ELeFevre

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(I hope this is the right forum for this post?)
Hi,

I've been working on creating my first interactive map and I was hoping to get a little feedback on what I could do to improve it. Because it could definitley use some help!

I am going to be working on it over the next semester, so feel free to make suggestions. Even if you suggest tearing the whole thing down and starting over...I'll do it. My goal is to create a map that is suitable for submission into the nacis.org student map competion Oct 2005, so any suggestions on useful tools that could be implemented, symbol design, color choice, you name it, are more than welcome. FIY, I assembled and projected all of the data including the NED raster image in ArcMap and then exported the layers into Adobe Illustrator and then into Flash MX where I created the Flash .swf file.
The map can be viewed here(no longer available)
Don't worry about hurting my feelings. Thanks in advance. PLP



#2
Hans van der Maarel

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PLP,

Looks pretty good. Just two minor gripes:
- The whole thing is a bit too wide so the rightmost part of the map falls off-screen (despite me running 1280x1024). Perhaps you can move the legend so that it's below the map?
- I'm not too keen on the color of the rivers. IMHO a bit darker, bolder blue would work better.
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Red Geographics
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#3
Nick Springer

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PLP - overall this looks good.

Comments:
- The Points of Interest icon should be a symbol not "PI" because it reads as Pi and is not intuitive without the lable.
- The border color is incongruous with the rest of the color scheme which tends to be muted and in the blue-to-yellow spectrum.
- The U.S. highway shields don't need the black square behind them, which makes them feel like a point of interest.
- I agree the river color is problematic, although personally I would try a lighter, less saturated blue, close to white. Also, I can barely read the river labels.
- From a Flash programming standpoint, you should close the previous info window when the user clicks on a new icon. If you don't some of the windows appear behind others.

Sorry, that was probably more than you wanted. Don't get me wrong I think this is an excellent map.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#4
ELeFevre

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Hans van der Maarel,

I appreciate your suggestions. Thank you. The whole size-resolution issue is one that I continue to battle with over and over again. I initially started the design in 800X600, but when I viewed the NED basemap on a monitor set at a higher resolution all of the details were lost, it was to small. What resolution is the best when designing an online map? 800X 600 .... just to be safe? Do I redesign at a different resolution or do I just make a slight adjustment in size? Moving the legend as you have suggested is also an option. However, I am not sure how intuitive a legend below the map would be?

This issue has also led me to think that maybe a different base map would be more suitable for a wide range of monitor resulotions?

Thanks for the feedback. Let me know if you can think of anything else...

Erin



#5
ELeFevre

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Nspringer,

"Sorry, that was probably more than you wanted".

Absolutley not! I really, really, appreciate the feedback. It's amazing, but it's very difficult to get any kind of feedback in the classroom, you almost have to beg for it, and even then, nobody wants to hurt anyones feelings.

I will take your advice and rework my symbols and border colors. They are confusing and wrong. I am also going to recolor the rivers and make the font larger. As it is now, you can't even see it! I have no idea how I missed that one. I will also figure out how to close each of the pop-up windows so they don't stack up...very annoying.

What do you think about the NED relief image I used for the background? I am thinking that if I generated my own file from a DEM in Surfer I would have much more control over the final image? I'm not fully convinced I like the base map (NED). It's to rough, or something?

What would you guys use for a base map if this was your project? Like I said, I have an entire semester to work on this thing, so if you suggest something major, that's fine. I am all for it.

Anyways, thanks for the suggestions. If you any have more ideas let me know. I'll take any feedback I can get. Thanks. Erin



#6
Nick Springer

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I like the relief image, although maybe you could add a color gradient to the altitude values. Maybe something muted and in the brown-yellow-orange spectrum to suggest a dry climate.

BTW, This is exactly the kind of benefit I had hoped to acheive with this site - the ability to share cartographic knowledge since cartographers often don't connect with a larger community.

Please let us know when you have updated ypur map online and we'll take another look.

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#7
Hans van der Maarel

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Erin,

For resolution, I think it's worth considering to go up one notch to 1024x768. According to this page, only about 34% of internet users is on 800x600 or lower. What do you know of your audience?

It seems there's a lot of 'waste' space on either side of the map+legend. If you can somehow reduce that, you'll end up with a smaller map without sacrificing detail. I think a legend at the bottom (or top) could work, although having it on the side is a more traditional place for it. Maybe you can try and reduce the legend in size? See if you can make toggle buttons instead of one button to turn a layer on and one to turn it off.

As for the terrain model, I'd personally go with SRTM. Isn't NED more detailed? The image you have right now is very detailed, which makes it more visually 'heavy'.

More remarks (my first post was made early in the morning, I wasn't fully awake yet). Use a different button for state borders. You're making it look like point symbols will pop up.

Nick,

I agree, it's good to have a forum like this. As far as I know, it's the only cartography forum out there that's not specifically aimed at one product or platform. The Map-mac list comes to mind, but that's for Macintosh users only.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#8
Nick Springer

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Now if I could just get more traffic...and specifically more posters

Nick Springer

Director of Design and Web Applications: ALK Technologies Inc.
Owner: Springer Cartographics LLC


#9
Hans van der Maarel

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I've taken the liberty of forwarding the url of this board to the person who maintains www.kartografie.nl, a website started by the Dutch Cartographic Association in order to spread more awareness about cartography. I'm one of the 'editors' of that site (though I'm fairly inactive due to work etc.).

I don't know whether he's actually going to include it as site-of-the-month (I believe we have a backlog until April or so), but you never know...
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#10
Kartograph

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I love the idea of this forum, too ! Thanks ns !

@polyline:
Grat Map ! Very clean and clear, nice scripting. Overall Design reminds me of the digital atlas of Switzerland (imho the best looking digital/interactive maps in the world):-)

Suggestions:
I generally like the look of your icons.
But:
I dont know what a fire tower is and it isn´t explained. Furthermore your Flame is much more detailed/less stylized (sp?) than the others which have more geometric appearence.

Roads:
I like roads with edges. Just duplicate the roads and make them a bit broader, then switch to black color. But you may already know this basic trick and might have decided against it.

River:
I like it the way it is.

How about some added functionality ?
- for example an extra window with an overview map, so you can see wher in the
Western US it is and how the Park relates to the surrounding.

General Idea:
If you have Elevation Data, you could assign colors to different heights. Now it looks like a bleak moonlike environment (which is pretty cool) but a bit more green and brown could give a more nature like - impressio.n

Do you have to use Flash ?
If you could use SVG, there is a function which allows the AUTOMATIC size correction for different resoulutions. But SVG PlugIns still aren´t automatically included in contemporary browsers, so this could be of no use, depending on your projected audience. Converting to SVG should not be that much of a problem as you can export your data. But some work would be involved.

Regards,

Andreas/Kartograph

#11
Hans van der Maarel

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Andreas,

I've often been amazed about the cultural difference between North America and Europe when it comes to mapping roads. Where 'we Europeans' would use a double line, 'them Americans' would use a single line.

I don't know where this comes from and both have their good and bad sides, but it seems to be one of the most basic laws in life. I don't think I have one North American map using double lines or one European map using single lines in my entire map collection.
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#12
Nick Springer

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Hans,

Interesting observation about cultural differences in road styles. Respectfully, I don't know if I agree. A quick survey of online map services, all US companies (and one - MSN - designed by me), show all 3 having double lines.

There may be a leaning towards single lines in North America, especially from some big names like Nation Geographic and Delorme, but any self-respecting NA cartographer ;) can't help but look to the other side of the Atlantic to learn the classic lessons of cartographic design.

Just my $.02

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Nick Springer

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#13
ELeFevre

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Kartograph,

Thanks for the feedback and the good words on my map!

Comments:
1) Your absolutley right, the "fire tower" symbols are really weak compared to the rest of the symbols. I will also include somekind of explanation of what a fire tower is. FYI a fire tower is a watchtower where a lookout is posted to watch for large fires. ..sounds like a pretty good gig to me :)

2) Good suggestion on adding a "European" stroke to the roads. I'll try it out and let you know what I think.

3) "How about some added functionality ?
- for example an extra window with an overview map, so you can see wher in the
Western US it is and how the Park relates to the surrounding."

This is a great idea. I am just not sure how to approach it. I was thinking about creating a seperate webpage for this type of information, i.e. detailed info about the park with maps to help a user orient themselves in the greater context. I will also explore adding an extra button that calls up a seperate window with an overview map...

4) "Do you have to use Flash ?"
Absolutley not. However, I'm not familiar with SVG in slightest. I don't even know what it is! I knew how to create the functionality I wanted in Flash, so I used Flash. I'll take a look into SVG...


Once again, I appreciate all of the great feedback. I'll start making some changes and let everyone take a second look in the near future. Regards. Erin

p.s I think we need more people posting their maps for critique...hint, hint.



#14
Hans van der Maarel

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Nick,

I stand corrected.

However, the examples you mentioned are all of online (and in a more general sense, on-screen) mapping services. In such an environment, a double line stands out more than a single line.

In printed maps, I have only come across a few examples of double lines in North America so far.

MapArt from Toronto uses that style and that's the biggest publisher that I can think of at the moment.
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#15
Kartograph

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Dear Polyline !

I´m, happy I could add to the discussion. I´m learning SVG right now, so I´m a good student, but a bad teacher...If you would let me, I could try to convert your File just for my practice. Afterwards I could make a writeup about what to do and the differences of Flash and SVG. (in short SVG is an XML extension which allows most of the things flash does and then some. The big plus is that it is non-proprietary). I´m working on an interactive map right now, so if you don´t want me to meddle with your design I will just show you mine when it´s ready. Thinking about it, that is much wiser.

I absolutely didn´t know about the "different road styles". What I noticed is that Anglo-American Maps mostly have yellow colour for settled areas, whereas back here dark colours like red/brown/black (symbolic colour for roofing) dominate.

As I was quite nit-pickey (sp?) with polyline´s map, I posted my first published map...so you all may have a shot :(

Regards,

Andreas




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