Thursday, October 27, 2011

Map Visualization and the use of a Timeline. A Great Example

Here is a great map that uses quite a few visualization techniques that convey a lot of information in an easy to consume and comfortable interface. The goal of this map is to show earthquakes, their location, their intensity and when they occurred.

First of all lets take a look at the map. The creator is using a familiar google maps interface and use the standard controls as are out of the box. A point to be made here is that millions of people are already familiar with these controls and allows a user to get right in and start working instead of learning a new system of controls. This site decided to use a single color icon to show where earthquakes have occurred which makes it easy for the brain to quickly understand what it is looking at. To display earthquake currency the creators have applied an opacity so that older earthquakes get fainter as the time goes on which is a great visualization technique because any user seeing the different opacity's can immediately infer that it is measuring age. The icons that are being used also are using size to display intensity, again something very easy for the user to quickly understand.

Moving away from the map the author of this site is using a timeline as another way to access the information about the earthquake's. The timeline can be controlled by the user to view past dates extending the use of the map and giving the end user the ability to browse different time periods. Incidents have been grouped  by hour and clicking on an incident interacts with the map by resetting the view and showing a balloon for further information. One other item to note that under the timeline the author uses hash marks and color to mark intensity.

What I like:
  • Common map controls using a industry standard map
  • Multiple visualization techniques to tell the story
  • Symbolization that makes since so that the reader can quickly tell what they are reading. In fact they do such a good job there is no need for a legend
  • No need for a legend that if not necessary will just add noise to the read
  • The use of the timeline to allow the user another means of navigation
  • Single focus, this map is telling a single story that makes if very usable and not a bunch of stuff that can confuse or distract the end user
What can be done better:
  • I would not change this map, I think they have done a brilliant job
What makes this map great is its ease of use. A average consumer can get into this map and quickly become an expert in its use. The story is simple and easy to understand.

I give this map a 9 out of 10

Happy Mapping ...

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Map Visualization and the use of a Timeline a Great Example! A Post By - @SkipCody #MAP #VISUALIZATON #GIS

1 comment:

  1. See this example too