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Atlas Design and Usability

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					 Coastal Web Atlas
Design and Usability
             Liz O’Dea
   Coastal & Marine Resources Centre,
        University College Cork
      What are design and usability?
    Design:
      •    Visual display
      •    Clear communication of purpose
      •    Efficient technology and management
      •    What makes an atlas?
    Usability:
      •    Intuitive for target audience
      •    Easy access to data and information
      •    Simple and effective
Cork, Ireland              Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006     Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                    Presentation Overview
 Considerations to Get Started
 The Atlas Interface

 User Feedback

 Behind the Scenes



                        Lessons Learned

Cork, Ireland               Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006      Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
    Getting Started: Considerations
    What is the atlas purpose?
      •    E.g. educational or tool for coastal managers
    Who is the atlas audience?
      •    E.g. general public or professionals
    What are their skills?
      •    E.g. basic web experience or GIS savvy
    What spatial data will it contain?
      •    E.g. 20 static layers or 200+ changing and growing

Cork, Ireland               Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006      Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
    Getting Started: Considerations
    What functionality is necessary?
      •    Simple identify tool or spatial analysis
    Which software?
      •    Top-of-the-line package or tailorable open source
    What resources are available for development?
      •    E.g. programmer, GIS specialist or science writer

                        Keep users in mind!
Cork, Ireland                 Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006        Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
      The Marine Irish Digital Atlas
Significant time investment
spent on design:
      •    Interface of map page
      •    Data content
      •    Metadata
      •    Web site structure
      •    MIDA InfoPort
      •    Database Management System


Cork, Ireland            Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006   Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                           MIDA’s Answers
    Purpose:
             •   Provide spatial data, inform about coast
    Audience:
             •   Broad, from general public to GIS professionals
    Audience Skills:
             •   Basic to advanced
    Spatial Data:
             •   Scalable system – start with core, all-island data
    Functionality:
             •   Basic zooming and identify feature tools, access to metadata
    Resources
             •   GIS expertise, programmers, data base experts, coastal knowledge base
    Software:
             •   ESRI for desktop GIS, Open Source for web services and database

Cork, Ireland                          Potentials and Limitations of                 Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006                 Coastal Web Atlases Workshop                      CMRC
The Coastal Atlas Interface


Cork, Ireland            Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006   Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
         The Atlas Interface: Features
                         Overview                                    View


Layers /
Legend
                                                                              Tools



                                                                            Forms / Tables


 Information
 Cork, Ireland                       Potentials and Limitations of                    Liz O’Dea
 25th – 26th July 1006              Coastal Web Atlases Workshop                         CMRC
                             Map Area
   Scale, overview map, copyrights
   Data display challenging
    •   Cartographic issues increase with #
        of layers
    •   Choosing colours, fills
    •   Owner requirements (e.g.
        symbology)
    •   Draw order – are some layers hiding
        others?
    •   Limit # of layers viewed at one time?


    Cork, Ireland              Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
    25th – 26th July 1006     Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                    Layer List and Legend
    How to keep it simple?
    Layer list and legend
     integrated instead of
     separate
    Ability to add/remove
     layers from list
    Link layer names to
     information / metadata



Cork, Ireland              Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006     Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Information/Extras
    Easy access to information related to layers
    Link from layer list to info box
    Provide access to resources in one window (metadata,
     downloads, and descriptive info)
    Tab design gives flexibility of functionality
    MIDA InfoPort: general to professional info




Cork, Ireland                Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006       Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Metadata
                          Needs to be easily accessible
                          Increasing levels: Abstract,
                           Discovery & Full
                          Discovery: MIDA core
                           elements
                          Displayed using XML and
                           XSL, extracted from database


Cork, Ireland            Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006   Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Atlas Tools
 What map tools are necessary?
 MIDA keeps it simple

 Flexible to add functionality as needed




Cork, Ireland             Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006    Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Identify Results
                                    How to display tables?
                                     MIDA displays only
                                     “interesting” fields
                                    Lack of data dictionaries
                                     to define attributes
                                     (codes, abbreviations)
                                    Display data as is, or
                                     translate so more
                                     informative to user?
Cork, Ireland               Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006      Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
 Atlas Interface: Lessons Learned
    Do your research – what do you like or not like about
     other systems?
    Keep site simple
    Minimise scrolling and pop-up windows
    Make sure it’s flexible
    Consider how layers will be viewed together when
     choosing colours, fills and draw order
    No easy solution to layers/legend issue
    Are advanced map tools necessary?
    Communicate with data owners on how to display
     associated data tables in informative way
Cork, Ireland            Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006   Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        User Feedback


Cork, Ireland               Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006      Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                            Workshop Series 1
     1 ½ years into project
     Locally running demo (not live
      site)
     Invited key data providers and
      users
     Gave us focus to next
      development steps – design and
      data
     Invaluable tool – if informative
       •    Provide data  if  Good
            resource



    Cork, Ireland                Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
    25th – 26th July 1006       Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Workshop Series 2
 3 years into project
 Live prototype atlas

 Invited cross-section of
  user groups
 Small design issues

 Data, data and more data
    •    Key focus of year 4


Cork, Ireland                Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006       Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
 User Feedback: Lessons Learned
 Regular user feedback is crucial for success
 Consider:
      •    Hands-on workshops – personal discussion
           combined with surveys
      •    Surveying across user groups
      •    Online feedback




Cork, Ireland             Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006    Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                    Behind the Scenes


Cork, Ireland             Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006    Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
                        Behind the Scenes
    Structural design just as important as interface
    Customised database management system used to
     manage MIDA layer content
      •    Not spatial data themselves, just information related to spatial
           data
    Time-consuming to add and update layers
      •    3+ hours per individual layer
      •    Some automation, mostly manual
      •    Need to determine how to streamline process

Cork, Ireland                  Potentials and Limitations of         Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006         Coastal Web Atlases Workshop              CMRC
 Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learned
    Invest in development of efficient and scalable
     Database Management System
      •    Reduce time required to add and update layers




Cork, Ireland              Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006     Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC
       Always keep users in mind!

                Advanced technology
              does not necessarily mean
                    atlas success.
                  Happy users do.
Cork, Ireland            Potentials and Limitations of   Liz O’Dea
25th – 26th July 1006   Coastal Web Atlases Workshop        CMRC

				
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