Hipmunk’s hotel search has created a great user experience utilizing a web map interface. Not only have they done a great job with their pushpins but they have added a heat map overlay experience that gives the user an easy way to see hotspots of restaurants, tourism, shopping, nightlife, and vice (bars, gambling, etc.). Hipmunk has created 5 themes that are important to the consumer when looking for a hotel. Keeping the number of heat map themes to a minimum makes for an easy to discover and use feature set. Putting the heat mapping control up front and center also aids in the discovery of this functionality and is easy to find even for the most naïve map user. By using a 5 color heat map that is stepped and not smooth appeals to a broad consumer base making it easy to figure out the intent of the data and message that is being conveyed.
Beyond the heat maps Hipmunk has also limited their pushpins to a three color intuitive color scheme (green = cheep, blue = average, and red = pricy). Three colors with easy to interpret color scheme lets the end users consume the message much more easily then if there are 6-10 colors. Their clever use of pushpin clustering has allowed the web map to go beyond the 200 location search limit found today in most sites and shows all of the locations in the area of interest.
Overall I will give Hipmunk props for keeping to a small number of datasets that are most relevant to the purpose of the website, keeping the color scheme simple and easy to understand and not compromising the number of locations on the screen do to client browser constraints.