Map Usability


Advances in web technology and mapping have triggered countless discussions on how online mapping technology is changing how people use and make maps.  An interesting study by Thomas Porathe from Mälardalen University in Sweden on User-Centered Map Design was presented at the June 2007 Usability Professionals’ Conference held in Austin, Texas.  Porathe’s study looked at how the human experience at interpreting maps is affected by a 2D versus 3D visualization.  The study looked at four different display perspectives, the first three being digital representations of north-up, head-up, 3D, and the fourth being a printed 2D map.  The author concluded: 

Many people find map reading difficult. The problem lies in translating an exocentric bird’s-eye perspective of traditional maps into an egocentric perspective of the human vision. The experiment presented here suggests that electronic egocentric map displays using real-time 3-D and GPS positioning technology are more efficient, less erroneous, and more user-friendly than traditional static maps or electronic north-up or head-up maps.

Acrobat PDF file User-Centered Map Design – June 2007 Usability Professionals’ Conference



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