You’ve probably seen all sorts of maps around the web, the most common being directional maps for restaurants or other businesses, like this one for PF Chang's.
This type of map is used commonly to map out business locations. However, there's more to dynamic mapping than location maps. Here are some examples of maps you can easily integrate into your site.
Maps with placed markers
The simplest map involves hand placing and editing each of your markers on the map individually. This, obviously, is not the best way to map a lot of data, but if you need a quick map, it’s the way to go. Using Google’s My Maps is the easiest way to do this.
Here’s a super quick map we put together to show some favorite restaurants in Richmond, VA. It was simple to create and easy to embed here. All the information you need to do this for your site is available at Google's My Maps.
Markers pulled from database
Our dynamic map for Public Service Jobs Directory (PSJD) is a great example of what you can do with Google maps using data from a database. PSJD is a job search site for people in the law profession who’d like to work in public service. Job search results display in a grid or in a map.
We also implemented a Google map for Hidden Creek Apartments that's been customized to reflect Hidden Creek's branding elements and look-and-feel. Note that this map has custom icons indicating the type of amenities that are marked and navigation that allows the user to choose the display. Layers in the map allow users to filter results.
Maps using geospatial data
So you want a map
Before jumping in and putting maps all over your site, you'll want to think about a few things. As with most things, planning is essential. Think about the questions below.
What is your map’s purpose?
In other words, what questions will it answer for your users? Simple directional maps answer the question “Where is it?” but maps that integrate more complex sets of data may not have such clear questions and answers. Think about your data and how you want your users to use it.
Where will you get the data?
Determine where you can get other data, whether from your own database or through geospatial data offered by third-party providers. For example, for our DC-area map examples, we used the map tiles and geocoding service from Cloudmade.com.
There are quite a few blogs and sites devoted to mapping, from the map collection at the Library of Congress to Google’s mapping blog. The National Geographic site includes a vast print map collection as well as interactive maps that incorporate photography, video, and data to illustrate trends and developments around the world. For fun and inspiration, check out the Strange Maps posts on Big Think where you can find a Tacography of Mexico and the Procrasti-Nation map. And to play around a bit with creating your own map, give National Geographic’s MapMaker Interactive a try.
Modern Signal significantly enhanced our site to be more efficient and user-friendly. They provide excellent customer service with timely and cost-effective solutions.
I love working with Modern Signal! Their CMS is very easy to use and they are incredibly responsive to questions or challenges I bring them.
Modern Signal has been a great partner for us for over the past 10 years. As our business grew and our needs changed, Modern Signal was able to work with us to adjust our website platform in the ever-changing online world. Their service and response level has been second to none, and we've been never been happier with our relationship with them.
Modern Signal has a professional staff that was very responsive to our needs during all phases - scoping, developing, implementing and maintaining - of our project. We have been pleased with their ability to deliver quality work on time and on budget. If given the opportunity, I would work with them again.
Modern Signal understands our business - from future needs to current limitations - so their solutions are always scalable, solid, and service-oriented.
Modern Signal worked with us to understand our needs and figure out what solution would work best for us. Our Lighthouse CMS is perfectly suited to our website goals. When we later needed to modify the CMS, they again took the time to understand exactly what was needed and then built that functionality rather than delivering a cookie cutter solution.
We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without your support over the years. Modern Signal has always been a great partner to us.
This was by far the smoothest website redevelopment I have ever experienced. Modern Signal was a wonderful company to work with and we greatly value our working relationship.
I felt as if my company was their only client. They responded to my needs quickly and efficiently despite short turn around time and intense demands.