Map Analytics - Ignite Spatial


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Web maps are everywhere - but what do people really want to see? We need to start doing analytics on our maps in the same way we do with our other pages.

Ignite Spatial presentation, Oct 2009, FOSS4G Sydney

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  • Maps are everywhere on the web, and that is awesome. It’s changing the face of geography, and we’re all better off for it. But as we start moving maps from newfangled out-there stuff into the norm, we need to understand what we’re actually doing so we can help our users better.
  • If you care about your website, you run some sort of analytics. It helps you understand where people come from, how they move around your site, and where they end up going to. And once we have this information, we can change things and see what happens.
  • Recently people have started looking at design in the same way via tools like ClickDensity. Is a green button more effective at getting clicks than an orange one? Do people try and click on things we don’t expect? Does anyone read the second half of our pages?
  • Analytic tools are all about providing insights - those lightbulb moments where we spot something - then we make changes, hopefully improve, then start over again.
  • We need to be doing Map Analytics. Here we have a bakery chain website with a map. My question for you is - has anyone, ever, wanted to locate their nearest bakery in Satellite view?
  • Rather than using all the latest cool toys just because they’re there we need to start simplifying our maps in the spirit of reducing choices. Rather than giving our users every option, we need to making some educated decisions for them.
  • Our maps have at least as many actions for the user as the pages they sit in, and we can look at each action with these ideas of understanding and simplifying.
  • What is the very first thing the user does when they see your map? Click on a marker? Change to satellite view? Do nothing at all? Zoom in?
  • If we have a country-wide product, how about pre-zooming the map to the city where the browser is to save those first few clicks? I’m pretty unlikely to be in Sydney and trying to find a pizza place in Melbourne.
  • How about we remove some of the map controls? Do we really need an overview map? a scale bar? Terrain or satellite view? Traffic? Street View? Panning? Zoom? Take what people don’t use away.
  • And while it’s fun to make up a separate icon for every conceivable thing that could be on a map, will the user understand what your little blobs mean? Probably not. We need to measure which markers are clicked on most, understand why, and do more of that!
  • Our info windows are mini-pages, and should be tracked just like the other pages on our site. Where do people leave to? Do they come back? How often do the other tabs get opened?
  • Do people actually zoom or pan your map? Or do they just look? I know we’re all paid to create beautiful interactive masterpieces, but maybe we don’t need interactive maps all the time? Pages would load a ton faster. And faster pages are a very good thing.
  • Google, OpenStreetMap, and others will create plain old images that look just as styley as your slippy map. And there are a number of ways to “power-up” a static map if someone does actually want to interact with it.
  • So, some numbers. What I term the “bounce rate” is how many people actually touch the map on the page? That should help answer whether our map needs be interactive at all.
  • And then, how long between the first touch of the map and the first time they click on a marker? And how much of their on-page time is spent interacting with the map? That can tell us how important the map is compared to the other content on the page.
  • Here’s a visualisation of 50,000 map views of a specific data layer on Koordinates. Basically every time the map zooms or moves the bounds are recorded. Different colours show more detailed zoom levels. What’s so special about some of these areas? We need to understand this.
  • You may have noticed some distinct squares on the previous map. And that they’re in the middle. That’s people just zooming straight in. Why? To “see” more detail? We need to understand this.
  • Tonight was about planting the seed of an idea and getting some thoughts going. I really want to see some awesome tools built around map analytics so we can all begin to understand what we’re actually doing. And I’d absolutely love to hear from people with thoughts about any of this.
  • Map Analytics - Ignite Spatial

    1. 1. maps for our users Rob Coup
    2. 2. analytics works
    3. 3. for the cool kids
    4. 4. rich insights
    5. 5. but what about our maps?
    6. 6. simplifying
    7. 7. What can we look at?
    8. 8.
    9. 9. removing controls
    10. 10. Info Windows
    11. 11.
    12. 12. <img>
    13. 13.
    14. 14.
    15. 15. visualising eyeballs
    16. 16. where to? @amatix