WWW Map Site Evaluation

Purpose

The purpose of this assignment is twofold:
  1. Gain familiarity with the Internet, and
  2. Develop the ability to critically analyze the quality of maps on the Internet.

Assignment

The objective of this assignment is to evaluate the user interface, content, and cartographic quality of Internet sites that incorporate maps. The format for the paper is hyper text markup language (html).

Discussion and Evaluation

I expended about eight (8) hours searching for the "right" maps. In general, I found that the vast majority of maps I encountered on the Internet did not meet my expectations. That is, the map implementations were unsophisticated, lacked animation and generally were no more than one level deep in hyperlinks. The maps generally displayed interactive features.

The two maps I selected for evaluation are:

The criteria identified in class, and subsequently applied as part of this evaluation are included in the Table that follows.

                                           The Penn     UK Tourist Map 
                                      Campus                      
                                                                        
1.  Human-Computer Interface                                            
                                                                        
Degree of interaction - Are                  Yes             Yes        
hyper-links embedded?                                                   
                                                                        
Intuitiveness of interaction - Is the        Yes             Yes        
linking structure transparent?                                          
                                                                        
Suitable form of interaction - Is the         No              No        
method of interaction appropriate for                                   
the purpose of the map?                                                 
                                                                        
Customization - Are options                   No              No        
implemented for more sophisticated                                      
forms of interaction, especially for                                    
the advanced user?                                                      
                                                                        
Advanced interface elements - are             No              No        
menus or forms implemented?                                             
                                                                        
Interaction with legend and scale -           No              No        
Is interaction implemented with other                                   
parts of the map?                                                       
                                                                        
2.  Graphic Attributes                                                  
                                                                        
Layout and design - Are the maps well        Yes             Yes        
layed out and designed?                                                 
                                                                        
Indication of scale - Is the scale            No              No        
given, either indirectly or directly?                                   
                                                                        
Use of color - Are the appropriate           N/A             N/A        
colors used on the map, especially                                      
for the depiction of quantitative                                       
text?                                                                   
                                                                        
Legibility of text - Is the text             Yes             Yes        
legible on the screen?                                                  
                                                                        
Appropriate size - Is the map                Yes             Yes        
presented at an appropriate size?                                       
                                                                        
Meta-data included - projection type,         No              No        
source of data, etc?                                                    
                                                                        
3.  Cartographic Function                                               
                                                                        
Is the overall display effective?            Yes             Yes        
                                                                        
Does the display achieve its                 Yes             Yes        
objective?                                                              
                                                                        
Is the use of animation explored?             No              No        
                                                                        

Conclusion

The state of the art with respect to Internet maps is evolving. I believe that the implementation of maps on the Internet is still relatively "new". When Internet maps are scrutinized using well known criteria applied against hardcopy maps (graphic attributes, cartographic function), they fall short. I found it challenging to evaluate these maps against these criteria in the absence of map information explicitly related to the criteria.

Nancy McCarley, Geography 761, 23 March 95