Monday, August 04, 2014
Ground Overlays Make Beautiful Maps
I really like Disney's Walt Disney World map which uses the Google Maps API's Ground Overlay feature to overlay a custom made static map on top of the Google Maps base layer. This is a great way to create an impressive looking, distinctive map.
Of course to create such a good looking map you need to start with a good custom designed static map. This might be why this feature is probably most used by universities, many of whom just happen to have great looking campus maps.
The Sarah Lawrence College Campus Map is a great example of seamlessly integrating a custom campus map as a ground overlay on top of a Google Map.
The map allows you to search for college buildings and facilities by name and through the use of categorized map markers. The advantage of using a custom image map as a ground overlay is that the individual campus buildings are easy to identify on the map. Users will also be able to more easily identify the buildings on campus from the building images than from the usual two dimensional mapped building footprints.
At the most basic level a university campus map should allow visitors to quickly find and identify their destination within a university. One of the most effective ways to help visitors identify individual buildings on a campus map is to provide recognizable building footprints.
A custom ground overlay on top of an interactive map achieves this perfectly. The University of Oklahoma online campus map is another great example of using a custom overlay with the Google Maps API.
The university's custom map includes 3d building footprints, which provide a great navigational aide for visitors to the university. For example, if you were visiting the university to attend a football game it wouldn't take you long to identify the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the map.