As 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:
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.