ProTip: Don’t Make Your Web Map Look Like a GIS
The most common mistake in design is to assume that the users of your design see the world in the same way as you.
The majority of web map deployments are overseen by someone with a background in GIS, therefore it’s not surprising that the interface of web maps starts to look like that of a desktop GIS.
Does your web map tool bar look like this?
Does your web map have lots of layers than can be turned on and off using a check box like this?
Does your web map not have a clearly visible title?
If the answer is yes to all (or some) of these three questions then the design inspiration for the web map has come from desktop GIS and this is usually a big mistake.
When a GIS user interacts with a map it looks like this:
When a Joe Blogs interacts with a map it looks like this:
Unless we are creating a web map that’s targeting users of desktop GIS then we should avoid trying to imitate such systems and instead take our design prompts from systems that will be familiar to our users such as Google Maps.