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Interactive

Maps

Usability test findings comparing


Google Maps and National
Geographic MapMaker Interactive

INTRODUCTION
This white paper serves the purpose of comparing the usability of two interactive
map applications: National Geographic MapMaker Interactive and Google Maps.

As we have come upon a digital revolution we are at a time where things are
constantly changing. Interactive maps have become a popular way to pair diverse
information and see relationships. Interactive maps serve as a purpose to organize
the worlds geospatial information and make it accessible. They serve many useful
purposes that include but are not limited to; planning trips, determining geological
positions, finding landmarks, and plotting storm tracks.

The interactive maps are accessible and free to use, the usability test is targeted
towards typical non-professional users, although it can be beneficial to use in the
professional world. I expect to use these applications or a more sophisticated
interactive mapping tool in my future. I preformed a cognitive walkthrough of ten
tasks a potential user of these interactive maps can expect available.

METHODS
Test Environment

The usability test for both of the interactive maps were both used on a 2013
Macbook Pro done with Safari Version 9.0 (10601.1.56.2) . The tests were
conducted at the University of Idaho Library on November 12, 2015.
I have selected ten common tasks to preform in both applications.
Evaluation Criteria
The usability test entailed using a five-point scale assessing accessibility, timeliness,
and satisfaction. On the scale below a 5 will portray proficient in completing the
specific task where a 1 will portray insufficiency in completing the task.


The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2




Strongly Disagree

1

Tasks

The 10 tasks are as follows:


1.) Creating Your map
2.) Base Maps
3.) Drawing Tools
4.) Lines and Measurements
5.) Custom Links
6.) Adding Bookmarks
7.) Saving a map

RESULTS

1.) Creating your Map

NATGEO
Go to the website
Education.nationalgeographic.com
Mouse over Mapping under this click Mouse Maker Interactive
This will bring you to your begging map template

Figure 2. The begging template for MapMaker


Interactive

Figure 1. Display of the drop down menu before clicking MapMaker


Interactive.


The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

GOOGLE MAPS
You must have a Google account once this has been created you may use the google
maps application.
Once you have logged into your google account go to the website
https://www.google.com/mapmaker
Unlike NATGEO this will automatically go to your current location

















The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5

4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

2) Base Maps

NATGEO
The zoom tool lets you move in and out of the map, the search tool lets you find
specific places and will automatically zoom there.
In the tabs along the right there is a tab labeled Base Maps this lets you dictate
what information you want to show on your map. Options range from street base
maps to satellite views.

Figure 1. Displays where


the zoom feature is located










Figure 2. Displays where the base map options are located

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree
2

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1
Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1


GOOGLE MAPS
In the layers panel, hover over the base maps title until you see change link. Click
this link. Once you click any of the thumbnails you can view your data with the new
base map style you use. The zoom feature for Google maps is located in the bottom
right corner this feature lets you zoom in and out.











Figure 2. Displays the zoom tool in the

bottom right corner.














Figure 1. Shows the Base Map options

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

3) Map Layers

NATGEO
There is a layer tab in the top right. This tab allows you to drag and drop layers you
would like to be displayed on your map. Click add layer under the layer tab to view the
catalog. Once you have done this you can add multiple layers by clicking the green plus
sign in the top right corner. After you have added layers to your map there is more
information about each layer in the legend tab. This software also allows you to reorder
the layers by dragging and dropping them, it also allows you to adjust the transparency of
each layer. This tool helps assess relationships between layers. You can remove layers
with the red X in the top right corner of the selected layer.

Figure 3. Sub-categories displayed


once Earth Systems was selected.

Figure 1. The layer tab displayed in


the top right corner.







Figure 2. Categories of layers that


are displayed after selecting Add
Layer.

Figure 5. The transparencies can


be changed once you have selected
your layers to show relationships.

Figure 4. After selecting a layer


you can remove by selecting the
red X

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5

4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1


GOOGLE MAPS
In order to add a layer click the layer button in the top right hand corner, by default
you begin with on layer. To import a layer click the import button, you will have to
have obtain your own data to add layers in Google Maps. Once you have uploaded
your data it will display on your map. To hide or unhide a layer click the checkbox
on the left side of the layer. To delete a layer click the blue on the left edge, a drop
down menu will appear this will
then have an option that says
Delete this layer.









Figure 1. Shows where the
layering option is and where the
Import option is.

Figure 2. Displays where you upload your data.










Figure 3. Display of the
heatmap layer.

Figure 4. Heapmap Data points


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Figure 5. Displays the delete this layer
option

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5

4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

4) Drawing Tool
NATGEO
The drawing tool icons are along the left side of the map. The line tool can be
used to see the distance between areas. By clicking on various areas of your
map you can create points and segments of your line, double click your last
point to make the end point of your line. The circle and square tools can be
used by clicking and dragging to the size you desire. To add text select the T
and click on the map to place your text box and click it to begin typing. To
delete any item click the trash button and select the item you chose to delete
then click save.

Figure 1. Displays the menu on


the left hand side with the line
drawing option.





Figure 2. Displays the points


being connected used to see
distance between areas.

Figure 3. & 4. Displays the circle


icon on the menu and making
your circle.

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

10

GOOGLE MAPS
To calculate distances between two points anywhere on earth you can use the line
tool in Google maps. To begin click on any point on the map then click to add
another point on your map to create a path. Once you connect the lines the mileage
between the points will then be displayed. The line drawing icon is displayed on the
top of the page once you have clicked this a drop down menu will display different
routing options. Google maps also gives you the option to chose between miles and
kilometers.














Figure 1. Shows the drop down menu options for line
Figure 2. Example distance between point A

drawing.
and B.




Figure 3. The menu on the left hand side

displays the distances between the points I

chose.






The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

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5) Custom Links

NATGEO
This tool allows you to customize your map with your own photos, text, and
videos. Begin by placing icons to your map these are found on the left hand
side. After placing these where you desire click the edit button and select the
icon you would like to customize. A formatting tool popup will appear click
the link option this will allow you to add text, photos, and videos. The title
will be what you want to head the particular icon, underneath the title you
will find the description box this is where you can include hyperlinks to add
videos and images.







Figure 1. This is where the icon


option is in the left hand corner.


Figure 3. The formatting tool popup where you


can add links to photos texts and videos.







Figure 4. Displays the


icon after you have
finished formatting.


Figure 2. Displays the icon options you can
drag on your map.

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The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree
1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1

GOOGLE MAPS
Place a new place mark on the map, type the label you want to show up on this
particular icon. Next click the small camera icon at the lower right corner of the
place mark window. In the next dialog window you have the options to add photos
or videos. On the left of the window, you will see Google Image Search, URL
and Video search. You can type keywords to search for online images and
choose from the search results, you can paste a link to an image (such as your
own Flickr image), or you can do a video search and choose the video you wan to
use. Either way, when you make the selection and click Select at the bottom of
that window, the photo or video will be added to the placemark.




Figure 1. Displays
the icon option in
the top right

Figure 2. This displays the add image


or video option.













Figure 3. Displays the simple way to add an image by typing a
keyword into Google search bar

Figure 4. Displays the icon after you


have finished formatting.


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The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree

2

The task was completed in a timely manner

Strongly Disagree

1

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral


5

4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral


5
4

3


Disagree
2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

6) Bookmarks
NATGEO
This is what MapMaker Interactive likes to call a geotour also known as a
geographic story. This tool allows you to add bookmarks, you can find these in the
menu along the top of the page. You can edit the title and description of the specific
place you have chosen they are then displayed along the bottom of your page.
Clicking and dragging allows you to change the order of your bookmarks. The
bookmarks are a neat way to add character to your map.









Figure 1. This image shows where to find the

bookmark tab.

Figure 2. This shows where you

can add the title of your
bookmark





Figure 3. Shows where you can organize your bookmarks at the
bottom of the page.

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The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5
4

3

Strongly Disagree
2

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1

GOOGLE MAPS
This application works a little differently on Google maps then it does on NATGEO.
You can save places to your Google maps by clicking on a place on the map above
the save click the star icon. Your star will appear on your desktop. You can remove a
place you've saved on the map. First, search or click on the location. Then,
above Saved, click the star icon









Figure 1. This is the location I chose to
bookmark or save.

Figure 2. Once the star in the upper right hand corner


is clicked this location has been saved.


`The function was easy to locate and navigate.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
5
4

3


2

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5

4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1


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7) Saving a map
NATGEO
In order to save your map click the save button in the top right hand corner. This
will pop up with a box that includes Map Title, Description, and Your Email
Address once you fill these out you will be emailed two copies of your map, one as a
read only map that you can share and one that you can go back and edit.

Figure 1. Select the save as button.

Figure 2. This is where you add the title the


description and your email address.

Figure 3. After you have finished clicked


save.

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral


5

4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1


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GOOGLE MAPS
In Google maps you are logged into your account so it will automatically save your
map and bring you to where you last left off anytime you want to log back in. If you
want to export click the menu button in the left hand select export as a KML. Chose
the layer you want to export or click the entire map and click export.

Figure 1. This is the drop down menu


where you will select Export to KML.

Figure 2. Once you have selected Entire map select


the Export to A .KML file and download.

The function was easy to locate and navigate.


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral
5
4

3

Disagree

2

Strongly Disagree

1

The task was completed in a timely manner


Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree
5

4

3

Strongly Disagree
2

1

The necessary interface locations were easily located.

Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree


5
4

3

2

1

17

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Throughout my evaluations I have concluded that the Google maps application is


more useful for directional and recreational use. While the National Geographic
interactive map is more focused on educational purposes.

TOTAL SCORES The function was easy The task was completed The necessary interface

to locate and navigate. in a timely manner



GOOGLE MAPS
NATGEO

26
30

30
33

locations were easily


located.

26
28

18