User-centered design for interactive maps: A case study in crime analysis

Robert E. Roth, Kevin S. Ross, Alan M. MacEachren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


In this paper, we address the topic of user-centered design (UCD) for cartography, GIScience, and visual analytics. Interactive maps are ubiquitous in modern society, yet they often fail to "work" as they could or should. UCD describes the process of ensuring interface success-map-based or otherwise-by gathering input and feedback from target users throughout the design and development of the interface. We contribute to the expanding literature on UCD for interactive maps in two ways. First, we synthesize core concepts on UCD from cartography and related fields, as well as offer new ideas, in order to organize existing frameworks and recommendations regarding the UCD of interactive maps. Second, we report on a case study UCD process for GeoVISTA CrimeViz, an interactive and webbased mapping application supporting visual analytics of criminal activity in space and time. The GeoVISTA CrimeViz concept and interface were improved iteratively by working through a series of user→utility→usability loops in which target users provided input and feedback on needs and designs (user), prompting revisions to the conceptualization and functional requirements of the interface (utility), and ultimately leading to new mockups and prototypes of the interface (usability) for additional evaluation by target users (user and so on). Together, the background review and case study offer guidance for applying UCD to interactive mapping projects, and demonstrate the benefit of including target users throughout design and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-301
Number of pages40
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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