What makes a Map App successful?
It sounds so easy and obvious. It's the basic, the 101 of analysis, Input-Analysis-Output. Usually I skip over introductions of books and that's especially true when I know the subject matter like GIS, but for some reason I started reading "The Esri Guide to GIS Analysis, Volume 1" (by Andy Mitchell, Esri Press) and it struck me like lightning, this is exactly what we should be doing:
You start an analysis by figuring out what information you need. This is often in the form of a question. Where were most of the burglaries last month? How much forest in each watershed? Which parcels are within 500 feet of this liquor store? Being as specific as possible about the question you're trying to answer will help you decide how to approach the analysis, which method to use, and how to present the results.
Other factors that influence the analysis are how it will be used and who will use it. You might simply be exploring the data on your own to get a better understanding of how a place developed or how things behave; or you may need to present results to policy makers or the public for discussion, for scientific review, or in a courtroom setting. In the latter cases, your methods need to be more rigorous, and the results more focused.
Frame the Question
Framing the question correctly will tell you:
- The problem you are trying to solve
- The approach of the analysis you want to use
- Which methods to use
- How to present the results
Who & How
Other factors that influence the analysis are:
- Who will use it?
- How will they use it?
- How are the results being used?
All this will impact your design, on what you should focus and how to lay the elements out on the page. Consider:
- Get the user to the location they are interested quickly
- Create clear call to action that allows the user to get answers to his/her question
- Simplify the methods on how to do analysis
- Provide means to use or export the results
- A Complete Guide to A/B Testing (by Cameron Chapman) - convince yourself and your clients of a design that works better - good summary and tool collection.
- It Isn't Minimalism (by Dmitry Fadeyev) - as Dmitry argues: "Simplicity isn’t a design trend, it’s an attribute of good design."
- Complete Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy (by Andrew Maier) - about strategies to abstract, analyze, collect, publish & manage. Nice!
- Understanding border-image (by Nora Brown) - nice CSS3 tutorial for custom borders - come on Microsoft, you can do it...
- Search Analysis with Google Analytics (by Dave Sparks) - may I introduce, your users. Get to know your users, what they do, what they want, what they are looking for. All invaluable information. Good intro by Dave.
- Best Tools for Testing Cross Browser Compatibility (by Joel Reyes) - every designers nightmare, browser compatibility.
- 10 Tools for Getting Web Design Feedback (by Ben & Jerry’s) -
- Drawing the Line: 6 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Projects (by Sacha Greif) - Thank you, thank you, thank you. Can't reiterate enough. We Designers have to show integrity! Thank you.
Really interesting research note by Gartner.
- HTML5 will become the mainstream of the Web during the next decade.
- HTML5 is a potential threat to the continued adoption of plug-in based RIA approaches (including Flash/Silverlight).
- Enterprises should try avoid becoming dependent on any one browser or client-side technology.
- Enterprise developers should “design for standards” and not browsers or runtimes.
- Developers should favor the lightest-weight technology that will meet their requirements.
- Architects should consider hybrid approaches […]
- Before purchasing or committing to a new UI technology or platform, enterprises should first invest in a user-centered design process based on objective data about user behavior.
Complete Analysis: http://www.adobe.com/enterprise/pdfs/html5_flash.pdf
On a personal note I especially like the following part (btw: brilliantly written):