Click the image to go to the online web map
While web maps clearly bring with them greater possibilities for data display (access to data through popups), animation and multiscale, not every web map necessarily needs all of these techniques to be successful. In fact, one of the basic tenets of map design is to keep it simple. Just because your technological palette allows it does not mean you need to deploy it.
This web map of the history of The Tour de France by Idé (a french computer graphics design agency) illustrates the philosophy perfectly. The map itself is static, single scale and cannot be zoomed or panned. It doesn’t need to. The base map detail is simple and effective. It does not need detail. The symbology is generalised but symbolic at the scale and meaningful. It suits the map perfectly, showing simple route paths between tour stages marked by point symbols. The stages are named, and the direction of the tour shown with small arrows. Colours are all in concert with one another and France itself is highlighted among the other land.
Idé don’t completely dispense with web controls. They use interaction to show the 100 years of the tour. The graphic time slider allows users to move to a particular year. The map updates. There are three pieces of information for each year – an anecdote, the stage classification and the overall classification. The map needs no more.
That’s it! There is nothing spectacular about this map except the simplicity is expertly crafted and the no-frills approach reminds us all that often the simplest graphical approach coupled with a clear use and usability make a really great map.
Update: The original post contained an error which attributed the authorship of the map to Henri Desranges…which of course is ludicrous. Apologies.