5 Tips for Creating Maps for Any Business or Commercial Development

Maps should be seen as more than diagrams for helping users find their way. They can assist the provider of the map as much as the consumer; a well-designed map can be a really important communication tool that is crucial to any branding strategy.

What’s the purpose of a map?

A map provides two functions as part of a wayfinding system of maps and signage:

  • To assist a customer with orientation and minimize stress or frustration

  • To support the provider of the map in providing a profitable, efficient service

Take two examples:

The Store Map

A cleverly designed map can illustrate any data the store owner’s wishes, meaning that certain areas of the store can be emphasized. Intelligent design can allow them to highlight the most profitable areas of the store.

It can also help to manipulate the customer journey around the store and encourage footfall into less obvious areas. A good wayfinding system of maps and signage can help keep customers in-store longer. It can highlight areas that visitors may wish to visit but hadn’t been considering until arrival.

Poor choices can undermine a branding strategy, so it’s important that maps and wayfinding systems are considered an integral part of it.A good wayfinding system of maps and signage can help keep customers in-store longer. It can highlight areas that visitors may wish to visit but hadn’t been considering until arrival.

The Hospital Map

A thoughtfully designed hospital map is important for improving user experience and minimizing stress. In such a busy environment, it is important to avoid congestion and also reduce the possibilities for confusion. A good hospital map will help streamline admittance and discharge procedures and reduce the volume of patients arriving late or in a state of high stress.

How maps can be a part of a brand strategy

A good wayfinding and signage consultant that offers quality mapping services will tell you that maps are an important visual communication tool. It’s important to be clear on what is or could be communicated through any map provided to users of a business.

Map designs, layouts, typefaces, colors, font sizes, and printing materials all convey something about a brand. It is important that good choices are made as this will help reinforce brand identity and help draw positive attention to the business.

Poor choices can undermine a branding strategy, so it’s important that maps and wayfinding systems are considered an integral part of it.

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When designing a map, remember that the overall look of the map is as important as the data on it. Here are five tips for creating a great map:

1.     Choose data discerningly

Only the most relevant data should be included on a map. It must serve at least one of two purposes:

  • Be absolutely essential to the user for navigation

  • Assist the provider of the map by promoting a few key locations

Don’t attempt to provide an overly detailed map. For instance, choose instead to highlight departments rather than every sub-department. Use only the most obvious landmarks to aid navigation.

2.     Use labels sparingly

Too many labels on a map create a lot of visual “noise. The same is true of labels that are too large. You may have problems with labels overlapping onto routes.

Ultimately, a map with too many labels will be cluttered and confusing. This negatively affects user experience and sends the wrong message about a brand. Overall, it would mean that the map is ineffective.

3. Use color wisely

Using a color legend is a useful way to improve the readability of your map by helping to distinguish areas. Careful consideration is needed when choosing colors, however.

Brand colors are important in ensuring the map is on-brand. But beware of using colors too similar for a map legend; they may be difficult to differentiate on the map itself.

Be aware that some users may have degrees of color blindness (it is thought to affect around one in 12 men in the general population, but far fewer women). The most common form of color blindness affects the ability to decipher between red and green and perhaps colors that also contain these (such as purples and blues).

4. Consider using inset maps

Smaller inset maps can be a useful addition to your map. Use them to either zoom in on details for a small area, or to zoom out and provide a geographical context for your main map.

Inset maps are a useful mapping tool to avoid a cluttered look and in making sure your main map is scaled well.

 5. Incorporate the right mapping elements

Most cartographers would agree that there are a few important elements to include in maps to ensure maximum usability:

  • A concise title

  • An arrow indicating north

  • An indication of the map’s scale

Whether or not you feel that these are a useful addition to your map will depend a lot on the size or business use of the area being mapped.

A final tip is to thoroughly road-test any map before committing to it. If the ultimate goal of clarity is to be achieved, asking volunteers unfamiliar with the area to test the map is vital.

Also, remember that maps can be really beautiful. Don’t compromise on the visual impact of your map. The time and money invested in creating an attractively designed map and overall wayfinding system will be rewarded by far greater consumer satisfaction and more positive user experiences.

AUTHOR BIO

Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at dezigntechnic in Dubai who also previously worked as the company’s Graphic Designer and Art Director. Zak is a creative with work experience in multiple multinational agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. Signage design is a family business, making Zak’s personal experience with signage his longest professional commitment.

 

 

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