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Mapping Faux Pas #4: Loading Map Syndrome

November 18, 2011
Online Mapping
By: Jason Holte

How patient are you when browsing the web? How long will you wait for a website to load before you abort your mission?

The average consumer won’t wait long so it’s critical to make sure your website and mapping app load quickly and accurately so you don’t lose the consumer’s interest. This brings us to our Mapping Faux Pas #4: Loading Map Syndrome.

Consumers of today are demanding and are accustomed to instant gratification. And, due to developments in mobile, they are getting more comfortable with stripped-down versions of websites that offer just the necessities of what they are looking for. This new tech-savvy breed wants easy to use software and they want to be able to self-navigate. They expect the data on your site to be current and free of bugs. Above all else, the new consumer does not want to wait for your site to load! Demanding little buggers, aren’t they?

Integrate Maps, Keep Users Happy

So how do we keep them happy while integrating web-based mapping into our site? Well, first off we need to recognize that mapping over the web is an entirely different beast than mapping on the desktop computer. The desktop computer has a great deal of computing power and resources but a web browser is very limited on these features. Porting desktop mapping techniques to the web does not translate very well and in most cases the first item to suffer is performance.

When developing a web-based mapping application, put performance first and obsess over it. Use all the tricks in the book to shave off every millisecond possible. Use server-side rendering, pre-rendered tiling, proper spatial indexing, and standard web application techniques to get the best performance possible. It’s a given that resources may be limited and compromise can occur, that’s OK as long as you revisit each compromise and tackle those slow points every chance you get. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to obsess over the performance of your mapping application. Don’t expect consumers to wait for your map to load, because they won’t.

With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to creating a great mapping application for the web that will keep your consumer engaged, happy and coming back! Happy mapping!

Click here to see Mapping Faux Pas #5!

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