Out with the old, in with the new…OU Campus Map

campusmapAs many of you may have already noticed, the University campus map underwent a major overhaul for this fall semester, introducing a new interface and adding several new features to improve the overall user experience. A lot of hard work went into making this possible, but it started with a single question; “how can we best modernize the campus map?”. Did the existing map work? Sure it did. The question is whether or not we are providing our users with the best possible experience while they search for their destinations.
Having access to countless online geo-service related resources, we were able to define the following as a list of criteria for our new campus map:
A Bigger Map
In an attempt more efficiently leverage desk desktop real estate, we decided to extend the campus map canvas beyond the existing 600x450px constraints to something that dynamically scales with the user’s browser. The was achievable by collapsing the map building list and search results into a sidebar accordion menu, and using javascript to adjust the dimensions of the map canvas on browser resize.
A Faster Map
Search results and load times have to be faster. We need a product that we can scale with features and content without slowing it down. The key to making this possible was changing how we handle the location data. The previous release would ingest large XML files upon page load or user request, presenting a real challenge when we wanted to throw more data at the map. Our solution was to dynamically pull data (as JSON objects) from the building pages we store in the campus CQ5 CMS. By displaying only what the user request, we have a lot more flexibility in the amount of data we can offer.
An Interactive Map
Searching for a location by name, dropping the marker, and then clicking it has worked for years and will continue to be a viable way to pull up location data in a map; but what if those ever so inviting building overlays were actually selectable? Well, thanks to the Google Maps offering of geo-polygons were able to deliver clickable buildings for this release of the map. Any building that we are storing coordinate data for is now encased in an object that allows the user to open an infoWindow by simply clicking that building.
An Informative Map:
As with any web app, its quality is defined not only by the design or mechanics, but the content itself. By partnering with other organizations on campus, we are able to offer more data to the user with the intention of presenting them with a much more informed visit. Our first such partnership was with the Disability Resource Center, who provided us with accessibility information and floor plans for each location.
In the weeks to come we’ll be introducing new features and content updates, as well as a more technical look into the product. Please feel free to provide comments or suggestions using “Feedback” button on the map.

map_infowindowAs many of you may have already noticed, the University campus map underwent a major overhaul this fall semester, introducing a new interface and adding several new features to improve the overall user experience.

A lot of hard work went into making this possible, but it started with a single question: “how can we best modernize the campus map?”

Did the existing map work? Sure it did. The question was whether or not we were providing our users with the best possible experience while they search for their destinations.

Having access to countless online geo-service related resources, we were able to define the following list of criteria for our new campus map:

campusmapA Bigger Map

In an attempt to efficiently leverage desktop real estate, we decided to extend the campus map canvas beyond the existing 600x450px constraints to something that dynamically scales with the user’s browser. The was achieved by collapsing the map building list and search results into a sidebar accordion menu and using javascript to adjust the dimensions of the map canvas on browser resize.

A Faster Map

Search results and load times have to be faster. We need a product that we can scale with features and content without slowing it down. The key to making this possible was changing how we handle the location data. The previous release would ingest large XML files upon page load or user request, presenting a real challenge when we wanted to throw more data at the map. Our solution was to dynamically pull data (as JSON objects) from the building pages we store in the campus CQ5 CMS. By displaying only what the user request, we have a lot more flexibility in the amount of data we can offer.

An Interactive Map

Searching for a location by name, dropping the marker and then clicking it has worked for years and will continue to be a viable way to pull up location data in a map; but what if those ever so inviting building overlays were actually selectable? Well, thanks to the Google Maps offering of geo-polygons we’re able to deliver clickable buildings for this release of the map. Any building that we are storing coordinate data for is now encased in an object that allows the user to open an info window by simply clicking that building.

An Informative Map

As with any web app, its quality is defined not only by the design or mechanics, but the content itself. By partnering with other organizations on campus, we are able to offer more data to the user with the intention of presenting a much more informed visit. Our first such partnership was with the Disability Resource Center, who provided us with accessibility information and floor plans for each location.

In the weeks to come we’ll be introducing new features and content updates, as well as a more technical look into the product. Please feel free to provide comments or suggestions using the “Feedback” button on the map.

http://www.ou.edu/home/beta/map/index.html

3 thoughts on “Out with the old, in with the new…OU Campus Map

  1. I like the new map, however, I would like to make a couple of suggestions. First, you should include ALL of the buildings currently in use on campus. Example: where are the Cate dormitories? Where, in particular, is Cate 4 — the current location of several faculty offices (including mine). Second, you need to be on top of the pending move of several departments currently in Dale Hall Tower. (If you haven’t heard, the tower must be vacated for stabilization beginning May 2011.) Several departments are moving to “South Campus 4,” which your map does not properly label. A LOT of people are going to be looking for this building, so you need to help them out.

  2. Thank you so much for this feedback. We’re currently working out some of the finer details such as adding in additional buildings and working with Google to get these buildings listed as well. We’ll make sure Cate 4 and “South Campus 4” are on this list. Community feedback helps us keep this information as updated as possible – thank you again for your comments.

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