On the Intersections of Cartography, Spatial Data Science, and User Experience Design

Authors: Robert Roth*, UW-Madison
Topics: Cartography
Keywords: UX design, user experience, cartography, spatial data science, interactive maps
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 48
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Advances in computational and information technologies have fundamentally transformed how geospatial data are produced and consumed, with general audiences now readily accessing maps that are highly interactive and delivered online or through mobile applications. Spatial data science has surged as a result, with the broader geospatial workforce approaching 425,000 in the United States by 2010 with a projected growth of 35% by 2020. Given this burst of innovation, I argue that the bottleneck today is less in available data or tools, and more in how these services and technologies are packaged together through careful design to support a diverse range of user needs and experiences. In this presentation, I first make the case for cartography as a set of design concepts that bridge spatial data science and user experience (UX) design, an intersection of knowledge areas I call Map UX. I then review principles of Map UX and introduce a composite taxonomy of “interaction primitives”—or the basic building blocks of interaction design mirroring the visual variables in cartography—that serve as a foundation for the science and practice of Map UX. Next, I introduce MapStudy (https://github.com/uwcartlab/mapstudy), an open source survey tool that operationalizes the interaction primitive framework to facilitate scientific and user-centered studies on Map UX. I illustrate the functionality of MapStudy through several case study experiments on web mapping and data journalism. I conclude with a call to action for centering cartography within spatial data science curriculum to truly realize the potential of geospatial for all audiences.

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