Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Walk Score Does It Right

We have come accustom to fast, responsive applications and have very little patience for a slow, sluggish user experience. The longer it takes for a page to respond the greater the chance of losing your end user to the "I give up!" back button.

Performance is one of items that web map developers battle every day. The overall speed, interactivity and how responsive your web map application is can drastically affect the end user experience and overall adoption rate of your application.

The other day I was on the Walk Score® site and started playing with the Travel Time widget. I was blown away by its speed and interactivity of this feature. I have seen some examples of drive time polygon generation on the web where you select a location, enter a minute interval and click on the generate button. 3 to 30 seconds later you have a drive time polygon displayed on the screen. The Walk Score® team said that they could do better, and they did. In fact they hit it out of the park!

I am not sure what they did but I would love to hear your ideas on the technology behind this feature.

What I like
  • The placement of the widget does not obscure the map and is easy to discover
  • Hovering over the widget expands the input and includes only a few options
  • When working with the widget it responds instantly eliminating the need for the dreaded refresh button
  • Walk Score® uses a single color, transparent visualization technique that allows the end user to quickly determine the travel time without detracting from the rest of the experience

One item that bothered me at first was using generalized circles to display the travel time. I would have preferred a more precise polygon as the result. The reason why it bothered me is because I am a GIS guy but this application is not for the GIS guy, it is for a consumer who could care less about GIS and cares more for ease of use and how well the application performs. The generalized circles make the result easy to read and understand and could have been implemented that way to gain ultimate performance.

I give Walk Score® a 10 out of 10 for this functionality. They did everything correct and I can’t wait to see that they do in the future.

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Walk Score Does It Right - @SkipCody #GEOSPATIAL #GIS

1 comment:

  1. Walk Score DOES do a lot right, but when it comes to actual walking, it seems to do a lot wrong too - it correlates with crime, obesity, poverty, LESS exercise etc. Read more here -