Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Top 10 Google Earth Bad Design Practices

In this post I refer to a 'Google Earth project' by which I mean a collection of multiple elements that have been wrapped up in a file readable by Google Earth (a file with .kml or .kmz at the end). There are some good examples here .
  1. Placemark icons that are overly complex and/or have too many colours (A simple 2 tone icon such as the orange blogger icon top left of this page is good)
  2. Users encounter a cluttered view when opening a Google Earth project
  3. No attempt has been made to give the users an introduction to what data layers they can view in a file
  4. Use of acronyms/code names (e.g. 'Sensor X10-7/2007') where unnecessary or where they haven't been explained
  5. Too much text used in pop up balloons, no understanding that users will just skip large blocks of text
  6. 'Chart Junk', elements that are in a file but actually do not add any relevant understanding and just get in the way of overall clarity
  7. Not editing camera positions. Placemarks can each have a unique camera position which defines a custom view, a powerful way of enhancing patterns of placemarks or their position in the landscape
  8. Use of overly colourful or thick lines in polygons. Lines have less 'clutter' effect on a view if they are as thin or bland in colour as possible whilst still remaining clearly visible
  9. Not encouraging users to turn layers/folders on or off to aid understanding. Users can be advised how to view data to help them understand the message in a file
  10. Not picking out key data points or study areas. Users have different lengths of time to spend looking at a project, some will just view what is on the screen without clicking anything, some will spend a lot of time exploring your work. There are also a set of medium length users inbetween, if some key parts of the data set can be emphasized the medium level user may be encouraged to stay longer.

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