Location/Geographic Search Design Patterns

15 Feb 2010 - 7:17am
4 years ago
6 replies
2102 reads
Andy Polaine
2008

Hi folks,

I'm working on a project that requires users to be able to search
for a teacher or school (for yoga, but that's not really important)
within their neighbourhood. There are two main scenarios: Someone who
just wants to find a place near them and someone who knows of a
teacher/school and wants to find it.

We have a database with all the names and addresses and, of course,
can try listing these via postcode or suburb, but this usually is a
bit of a failure for people living very near a different
code/suburb.

The Google Maps API is useful, but the density of results in a city
can sometimes make it pretty useless with lots of zooming in and out
and scrolling about to find anyone.

Does anyone have any design patterns or examples where something like
this is well implemented?

(By the way, I had a look on Peter Morville's
http://searchpatterns.org/ site - I don't have the book yet - but,
oh irony, I couldn't find anything quite like what I was looking for
when I searched. Maybe there is some terminology for such a search
that I'm not aware of).

Comments

15 Feb 2010 - 8:09am
gMulder
2009

Hi
what device are you designing for? for mobiles (Android) I think that
Aloqa and Places Directory solved that rather nicely by giving lists
sorted by given categories
(http://www.pitchengine.com/brands/aloqa/images/22375/AloqaHomeScreen.png
and less colourful but somewhat clearer
http://apture.s3.amazonaws.com/000001260513e04d99446b84007f000000000001.places1.jpg),
where you go to the listing and then show the item on the map if you
want. "Search" here is a DB query based on your Geolocation.

Maybe that helps to give a direction for another angel of research
for you.

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15 Feb 2010 - 8:21am
Andy Polaine
2008

Sorry, I forgot to mention this is simply a web site, not for a mobile
device (well, not yet).

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15 Feb 2010 - 8:28am
Andy Polaine
2008

I'm still up for more suggestions, but Air BnB seems pretty nice:
http://www.airbnb.com/

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15 Feb 2010 - 8:48am
Graham Sear
2010

Hi Andy,

It might be worth taking a look at everyblock.com or dopplr.com as
they show a lot of information in both textual and map display
alongside each other - might give you some inspiration.

everyblock.com may be especially helpful as they group results
together at different zoom levels.

In terms of general map design, Making Maps by John Krygier is
definitely worth a look.
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=81aX0AIviv8C&lpg=PP1&ots=ymAvD1wlie&dq=making
maps&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Hope this helps

Graham Sear

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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15 Feb 2010 - 9:22am
Jason Pamental
2008

Andy,

If you have exact addresses for businesses (rather than just zip),
the Google Maps query can get more precise latitude/longitude, so if
the user supplies an address you could give a more accurate sorted
list (maybe sorted by proximity initially). The grouping on
everyblock.com is really cool, but might be more difficult to
implement (I haven't explored the maps API though, so maybe there
actually is something relevant there).

Having the combination of an embedded Google Map with live click/zoom
and a sorted list next to it could be a nice solution.

Cheers,

Jason

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15 Feb 2010 - 2:54pm
Andy Polaine
2008

Thanks for the everyblock.com link %u2013 I hadn't seen that (I live
in Germany, so not much use to me). It's got a pretty rocking
interface and the grouping into number counts is a nice approach to
that clustering problem.

It's looking like the Google API can do what we need, the question
for us it to work out how to expose the other text-based info in a
graceful way. Even Google Maps doesn't seem to do this very nicely,
but I think we can probably get something going.

Thanks for the map making book link too - it's not really what I'm
after, but what a great book!

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