Mapping Faux Pas #1 – Where’s the Map?October 27, 2011Online MappingBy: Jason HolteShare: TwitterFacebookLinkedInEmailIn this 7-part series, we will be discussing some of the most common Mapping Faux Pas found on real estate websites. Even though we’re focusing on real estate sites, these mistakes crop up across industries and applications and our tips on how to avoid them are equally applicable to any application using maps to convey information. Mapping Faux Pas #1: the Missing or Hidden Map!We all know three things about Real Estate: location, location, location. Nothing screams “location” more than a map. Therefore, we feel no real estate site is complete without a map, and if you do include a map, please don’t hide it!A map is the perfect medium to show search results, a single property, real estate trends and information that surrounds that property. While there was a time where consumers were somewhat timid with maps not understanding their full usefulness in exploring data this is no longer the case. Today’s informed consumers have come to expect maps, and are on the look-out for them. They are comfortable using the common Bing and Google maps and understand how to navigate and interact with them. Should these new map-savvy users stumble across a site lacking a map, they will very likely go elsewhere for their information. Further, maps are a requisite part of the mobile experience, where everything revolves around location.Almost as bad as omitting the map from your site is hiding the map or making your users undertake the great map hunt. Too many times I’ve encountered sites that have teeny-tiny map links or bury their maps several pages deep into their user experience. Maps are an incredible resource and if you are going to put the time in to add a map to your site, then put the time in and put the map front and center and integrated into the many user workflows on your site.Real Estate Sites Need Mapping – Enough Said!Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you are developing your site so you can avoid our first Mapping Faux Pas.Make your maps easy to find – present users map options and present them early and oftenPut map links at the top of the page or make them easily discoverableOffer maps at each step of the user experience: Search, Display, on the Detail View etc.Use your maps to present more than just property location. Consider using maps to communicate sales information, market analysis and in reportsDon’t relegate your maps to an after-thought. Design your site around the map and make the map countWhen you do present a map go beyond a single point on a map and put up data that tells the story around that locationWhat Are All the Different Ways You Can Use Maps on Your Real Estate Site?Use the map to locate the user to an area and let them begin their property search there using the mapDisplay search results on the map. This allows the end user to instantly see the big picture and eliminate properties that don’t meet the most important criteria of real estate: location.Include a map on the property detail page and add points of interest such as schools, restaurants, churches, coffee houses, grocery stores, and more…Use the map to display sales trends by area (Neighborhood, Postal code, City, County). Trend information is something most sites have already and unearthing that data on a map will help set your site apart.Following these tips can elevate your website, keep your end user engaged and will improve your overall site experience, which in the end, is what we’re all after. Stay tuned for more Mapping Faux Pas and tips on how to avoid them in upcoming weeks.Click here to see Mapping Faux Pas #2!