Adapting mobile map application designs to map use context: a review and call for action on potential future research themes

Mona Bartling, Bernd Resch, Tumasch Reichenbacher, Clemens Rudolf Havas, Anthony C. Robinson, Sara Irina Fabrikant, Thomas Blaschke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The increased use of mobile maps in our highly mobile digital culture has resulted in a large variety of map users and map use situations. For mobile map applications that engage a broad user base and feature diverging map usage contexts, one-size-fits-all map interface designs might result in significant usability tradeoffs. To respond to this challenge, changing the map design based on map use context attributes, such as increasing icon sizes for people with impaired vision or using the user’s position to highlight information on the map are only a few of the many ways mobile map applications can be designed and adapted to respond to the needs of users and their map use situations. However, there remains a clear need for research on the intersections between map use contexts and mobile map application design and adaptation. Therefore, this article reviews and synthesizes literature on map use context research and design adaptation of mobile map applications. To push forward efforts in these areas, we propose future research themes and approaches. We first evaluate options for modeling map use context, which plays a significant part in map adaptations for detecting relevant context attributes on which to base adaptation decisions. We then consider dynamic possibilities to assess the usability of these adaptations by reviewing the HEART framework. We conclude by offering ways to move the suggested approaches from concepts closer to practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages15
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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