Thursday, August 15, 2013

New trend - maps as infographics

In my last post I noted general lack of new and exciting developments in GIS and map publishing industries. However, it does not mean that things are at a standstill. One of the most interesting emerging applications of maps and online mapping technologies is integration with minimalist, infographics like websites. An example is created by the City of Melbourne:

This is a very basic but visually attractive, and most importantly, very informative way of presenting information. A “flat design”, as it is popularly known, is relatively new approach to graphic design. It emphasizes usability and features clean, open space, crisp edges, bright colours and two-dimensional/flat illustrations. The approach is filtering through into design of mapping applications thanks, in big part, to custom style map rendering functionality which, if I am not mistaken, was originally invented by Google map team.

In a sense, online maps and cartography are being reinvented again. It is a good thing. I am sure we will see more and more simplified map designs as this trend is driven by visualisation specialists/graphic design artists, and popular demand of course, rather than GIS experts and cartographers. Spatial professionals may be horrified that “outsiders” are stealing the march again but they can still get on board – it is not too late to embrace the new concept and join the leading pack as this trend is a relatively new phenomenon.

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