While including a free Google or Bing map on your company’s Web site can get the job done, Toronto-based Mapmobility Corp. says there are serious advantages to customizing your maps.
The custom mapping firm said that while these services offer great location-based maps, they fall short on offering location-based spotting and identifiers, as well as land usage information. These are key aspects of a customized map and should be considered on any custom mapping project, said Dave Scott, vice-president at Mapmobility.
For IT professionals tasked with a mapping project, whether it be for internal business opportunities or an external map for a company Web site, Scott said that organizations should be less worried about scale and more concerned about context.
Even though a transit map for subway riders is not geographically correct, the map is effective because it informs passengers about where each station is in relation to one another. The same approach needs to be taken for businesses, Scott said.
“If somebody wants to show all of their regional offices across Canada, they don’t want to give a map that has all the towns and cities on it, but rather only show the ones with their offices or locations,” he said.
“The map itself can be skewed and transformed into almost anything,” Scott added.
A rule to remember, Scott said, is that more information doesn’t lead to a better map. For example, a company located in a remote area wouldn’t create a street map showing limited connecting roads, but rather a high-level map that focuses on the nearest major roads.
One of the biggest pitfalls for most custom mapping projects is designers don’t enter into a project with a clearly defined scope. Basically, these organizations don’t understand what message they want to get across.
Another issue to look out for is out-of-date data, Scott said.
“This is more of a problem in Canada than in the United States because we’re not a major market for some of the bigger players out there creating the data,” he said.
“1-800-GOOG-411 is a service that uses advanced voice-recognition technology to provide local search results based on a location and a business category or specific business name,” said Wendy Rozeluk, a spokesperson with the search giant. “Users then have the option of being directly connected to a specific business, receiving a text message with the details of a particular result, or even to receive a map.”
Google did not comment on whether it plans to add more land usage information or assist businesses who want to build custom maps for their Web sites.
For Mapmobility, customers looking for customized maps tend to be transit companies, real estate companies, municipalities and restaurant chains.
One recent customer was a major restaurant chain in Western Canada that used custom maps to plan out its expansion strategy and communicate to customers where they could find the nearest locations. Another customer was a luxury car company which wanted to map out its locations in relation to surround car dealers for strategic purposes.