Deeper map customization with zoom level customization and industry optimized map styles
UX Designer, Google Maps Platform
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Some of the most impactful decisions made when designing a map involve what to show at each zoom level to best help the map viewer make a choice or take an action. Our team is always evaluating and optimizing content and geometry across zoom ranges to determine when to show points of interest (POIs), road labels, side streets, and other helpful info. When it comes to Google Maps, the optimizations we make are generalized solutions to the wide range of tasks any of our monthly users may be attempting to accomplish. On the other hand, Google Maps Platform customers are usually working on focused tasks—and being able to optimize what is shown across different map zoom levels based on their users’ needs will deliver a better experience.
Many of our customers have found zoom level customization important enough to invest in complicated workarounds involving dynamic style swapping. Starting today, those workarounds are no longer required. Zoom level customization is now a native capability in our cloud-based map styling editor that lets you deeply optimize the map for your particular use case. For those who don’t have the time or expertise, we’re also introducing industry optimized map styles in the cloud-based map styling editor, where we’ve done the heavy lifting on map customization so you don’t have to.
Zoom level customization
Maps are a complicated, constantly changing presentation of the world that aim to expose just the right amount of information to be useful without being overwhelming. Aside from the context in which a map is viewed—like a travel site or retail store locator—the user’s current zoom level is one of the strongest signals about what they’re trying to accomplish. As users zoom out, broader orientation needs may change and replace other needs involving more precise locations. Generally, as users zoom into an area or location, they need increasingly detailed information to accomplish their goals.
For a traveler, it may be understanding the types of businesses near a hotel or vacation rental. For a driver, this may be high-contrast streets and street names to ensure they don’t miss a turn. For a shopper, this may be understanding the entry points of a parking lot. In these three scenarios, different zoom level styling is required, which gets even more involved when you take into account users moving from one zoom level to another in the map. With zoom level customization, our customers can now begin making micro-optimizations that matter—like changing the types of POIs that appear at each zoom level or adjusting when and where street labels begin to show. Better continuity, along with the potential to surface salient content across zoom levels, means that end users can do less work to accomplish the same tasks. We believe these changes can add up to better map experiences.
Industry optimized map styles
We understand there’s a lot of complexity in getting the above mentioned continuity in experience and balance of content just right. The consumer Google Maps experience is based on years of understanding how changes can affect the utility and effectiveness of a map. With industry optimized map styles, we’re beginning to make some of those learnings available to you. Industry optimized map styles enable you to embed a map that’s been optimized for your industry, sparing the efforts to customize it yourself. For those who haven’t yet customized their maps, this is a great first step to begin offering a more relevant, useful experience.
We’re starting with industry optimized map styles for travel, real estate, retail, and logistics industries, but will continue to explore optimized maps for additional industries. To address the needs of the initial set of industries we’re supporting, we’re focusing primarily on changes to the presence and density of various labels and geometries, while maintaining Google Maps default color palette. Even subtle changes to labeling, density, presence, and color can be the difference between a map that conveys just the right information, and one that can feel disorderly. In the future, we’ll continue to refine these map styles with additional features and relevant data.
For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.