Monday, March 12, 2007

Campus Maps

A review of good and bad campus maps on various university websites.

As part of the redesign we're doing for the College of Business, we're developing a virtual tour, something similar to the "Explore" page on the new Humboldt State.

So, we're in the market for interactive maps. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I always prefer to steal from others, so I took a look at several dozen campus maps to see what I liked and what I didn't like. Though this project isn't going to be a campus map per se, I thought I'd start there to see how campuses are handling them in useful ways.

Humboldt State University
Their map was the inspiration for what we're doing, so obviously we like it. I like the scalability of the map and the fact that it highlights things of interest. It also has a smooth functionality. I don't like the way it zooms in very much (it moves the center of the map) and I feel that the campus map doesn't really provide much detail or useful information - but then, that's not it's purpose. However, great execution and very nice to look at.

Ohio State University
The only things I really like about this is that the map is very nice looking and I like the photos.

UCLA has done an interesting map. I like the rollover interactivity, the photos and the graphic design of the map, but otherwise it doesn't really stand out.

University of Florida
This is my favorite overall. I like the Google Maps implementation, mostly because the Google Maps interface is flexible and easy to use. I like the overlay map, the layers of placemarks, the search ability, etc. I also like that the map scales in detail as you zoom in and out. Personally, I think this is the easiest to use, most flexible and most informative campus map I encountered. The only thing I didn't like was that the panoramas and webcams opened in a separate window instead of the pop-up balloons on the map. I also thought that the UF overlay wasn't very attractive, but that could be fixed.

UC Riverside
I thought this map was ugly and clunky, but I did like how they implemented layers on the map (though the "OFF" buttons were not intuitive).

Kansas State University
I liked the rollover effect and the oblique view used. Otherwise, nothing special.

Santa Clara University
I liked the zoomable map and the photos that appear on the side, but I didn't like having to double-click. That wasn't intuitive.

Arizona State University
Another Google Maps implementation. Not as nice or as informative as the UF map, but still better than most.

What I Like in a Campus Map
  • Quick response (many maps were slow or had to load a separate page when you zoomed in)
  • Detailed zoom control with easy to use controller with feedback (e.g., Google Maps)
  • "Grab and pan" control for panning map (like Google Maps)
  • Switchable custom data layers to show/hide information
  • Attractively designed maps (many maps were crude or used ugly colors)
  • Clear to read and clearly labeled maps (many were difficult to read)
  • Photos of buildings (seeing a square on a map doesn't help you recognize the building on the ground)
The UF map meets virtually all of these requirements.

1 comment:

Farith Rezza said...
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