What should be a good map - guidelines on Yandex.Maps

    Yandex.Maps are used by millions of people every day. And each of them in its own way - someone looks at traffic jams, someone searches for organizations, someone builds routes, and almost everyone uses a map for orientation. What should a map look like to solve all these various problems? Which cards are good and which are bad? What should be drawn and what not? There are a lot of approaches. Here, for example, are some old maps of Moscow: On this map of the 17th century, each house is accurately drawn in isometric view, and important objects are described in the legend. It is unlikely that it was used by residents for orientation, rather, travelers drew it for their albums.

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    Today on Yandex.Maps appeared icons of objects and signatures to them, as well as, for example, the appearance of pedestrian streets has been updated. Under the cut, we’ll talk about what research and data we used for this important release.

    This is a 1935 map. Streets are signed on it and important city objects are marked, but houses are not drawn. But on this map you can already navigate.

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    As in the past there were different approaches to mapping, today all mapping services have different views on how the map should look. Starting from what information, in principle, should be placed on the map and how to present it, and ending with the choice of color for streets and houses. How to understand all this and make such a map that it would be really convenient to navigate? For ourselves, we formulated the answer to this question as follows: a good map is one that users can quickly and correctly correlate with unfamiliar terrain.

    To better understand the problem, we conducted several studies. First, we went on a trip to the cities of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. We asked people in a couple of minutes to draw by hand a map of their city - the way they imagine it. On the map it was necessary to mark the places where they live, work and often visit. These figures clearly show how people perceive the city: they often mark landmarks that are really important and well remembered. Considering such a map, you can quickly understand how the inhabitants of the city present its device, and draw conclusions that will help improve the readability of the map. Here is an example of one of these figures:

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    This study helped us formulate the main directions of service development, but there were still many questions. Then we used a different method: they invited people to our office and asked them to explain the way to an object to an imaginary friend using different maps. At the same time, they themselves monitored what our users were saying and what they were paying attention to. This experience was also useful, but it was not enough. I really wanted to get some kind of tool that would help compare several different cards and give an answer, which one is more readable.

    For the next study, we used the panorama and a fragment of the map to which it refers. The user's task is to navigate the terrain and indicate the shooting point on the map. For different people, we give the same places, but different cards. Thus, measuring the time and the correctness of the task, we understand which of the cards is easier to perceive and allows you to quickly map the map to the terrain.

    We continue to conduct similar tests and test our many hypotheses on how a really good map should look. Some hypotheses have already passed the test, and today we have taken the first steps to improve the readability of our map. On Yandex.Maps, object icons and signatures appeared, and, for example, the appearance of pedestrian streets was updated. Moreover, these are not random organizations and places, namely those that will best help you navigate:

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    Now museums, theaters, shopping centers and other landmarks are visible at a glance at the map. And if someone explains the road to you with the words “after the church to the right,” you will immediately be able to understand where this place of the district is on the map.

    "Behind the church to the right, on Leo Tolstoy Street."

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    "On the road you will pass the large building of the House of Music, left behind it in front of the bridge."

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    We take information for signatures from the database of Yandex organizations, then we simplify the names of objects - for example, rename “GOU SOSH” to simply “School”, and “City Clinical Hospital No. ... of the Central Administrative District” - to “Hospital No. ...”. This is necessary so that the names of objects are informative and easy to read on the map. All organizations we automatically rank according to the degree of visibility. In particular, it allows you to correctly sign large shopping centers with many organizations. For example, Mega Teply Stan, not Burger King:

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    Adding signatures to objects on maps requires processing a lot of information. Since this is the first stage of work, there may be inaccuracies on the maps. We continue to work on this, and your help may come in handy - you can report all errors found throughfeedback form . Studies have given us a lot of material to work with, and we will continue to improve the readability of Yandex.Maps.

    Updated maps are available in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan - both in the web version and in the mobile applications of Maps , as well as in the API .

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