Returning to my roots for this post (in more ways than one), I am going to explore the inevitable (although often overlooked) combination of creating maps and designing them. For those of you who just raised your eyebrow at me, they are not one in the same. Creating a map is giving your what a where. In its simplest forms, it is spatially grounding your data, giving the who's, what's, and how's a place to stay. It doesn't have to be for a business or really anything that matters. You could create a map of all the places Clemson University's football team has won games - see, content doesn't have to matter. Designing a map, on the other hand, is giving thought to how the end user, your audience, will perceive it. It is establishing a layout that both allows adequate room for the data whether it be the map itself or any written explanation as well as guides the viewer from start to end with no fuss. It is using tricks to place the most focus on the highest things of importance. It is putting yourself in the shoes of the audience and realizing how to make them see what you want them to see. It is something that should be used, and much like art in itself, is subject to criticism.
THE PLAGUES OF MODERN CARTOGRAPHY
even locusts bring along silver linings...right?
Despite that the majority of those words are creative - The take away here is... Umm... Well, that's actually a really a good question...
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other
I came across an article on viral maps while perusing Wired (stop, I promise I don't need an intervention). Not only is the article from my home state, but it lists the ugly and not-so-ugly sides of what a cartographer by the name of Elmer (Marty, not the glue) over at Map Hugger addressed as the primary plagues to modern-day cartography. The following are some of those plagues, no locusts included:
To end, I leave you with some of Georgia's wise words. The way you design a map could say leaps and bounds about how you want your audience to interact with it, how you perceive the data. These things can say much more than any words (or lack there of) you include. You have choices when it comes to design - you can either get the quick glance or draw your viewer in, entice them to learn more about what you have created. The ball is in your court, my friend.
Meet the Mastermind
Technical Writer Extraordinaire. Cartographer and Art Lover. Hater of fragmented sentences.