Thursday, July 24, 2008

Red Dot Fever Returns

The tagline to this blog is 'the antidote to red dot fever'. If you don't understand the reference, when the Google Maps API first really hit the scene lots of web programmers mashed up locations with Google maps and used a red splodge as a location. When you have lots of these symbols on a map you get a screen view that looks as if your PC has come down with measles, hence red dot fever.

Screen shot of one of the red splodges

Well Paulton's park near where I live in Southampton has produced a derivative of this kind of map - the huge red dots don't appear all on screen at the same time (thank heaven) but you have to roll around on the map to find them. This lack of a flag to show where content is on the map is similar to the 'mystery meat' problem in web page navigation.

Misuse of Flash: Then when you do find a location, the flash applet adds an unnecessary flashing animation and makes an annoying noise. A subtle click would be better and a simple size change to the icon. Finally the pop up bubble persists only if you hold the mouse button down, a click based on/off toggle would be better.

Good bits: To be fair to them I do like their pop-up balloon design, nicely subtle and semi transparent so you can see the map behind. The overall map is nicely designed too, its a little busy but I'm sure that appeals to kids.

Maybe the kids like the owl but I don't. 15 years ago it used to say 'Come to Paulton's, its a HOOT! HOOT!' which used to amuse me in its cheesiness as a student.

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