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The first tweak you may notice on the site is that there is a greater emphasis on the map itself. We reduced the size of the side panel, making it less obtrusive and giving you more of the map canvas so it’s easier to orient yourself or get a good look at the area you want to explore.
“We combed through user feedback, and one of the main requests we got was to show more of the map,” explains Minna Hekanaho, head of web design at HERE.
What on the surface may seem like a simple task to “show more map” opened up a design exploration into just how online maps are used, what information you expect to see and when you expect to see it.
“It’s not just about taking things away from the map canvas so you can see more of it,” adds Ninnaya Nilamann, a visual designer on Minna’s team. “Take too many elements away or reduce the size of the search bar too much and then users won’t be able to easily search for places, get directions or use the map in other ways that they expect to.”
That’s why Minna, Ninnaya and the rest of the visual design team also worked on improving how the search experience looks and how the results are displayed in this latest update. When you search for “restaurants,” for example, a list of places that are in your current map view shows up in the side panel. The side panel stays compact so it’s easier to see the all the restaurant markers on the map. You can easily hide the list to interact with the map more fully. Select a marker from the map or a result from the list, and you’ll see more information in the side panel. From there, it’s easy to get back to the full list of results by selecting “Show all results” or you can scroll forward or back through places using the arrows in the browsing bar.
“Our research also showed that while users expect the look and feel of the map to be similar between web and mobile, the map is used in different ways on each platform,” continues Ninnaya, “As you might expect, using HERE Maps on the web is about planning ahead – looking for new places to try and figuring out the best route there often several hours or even days in advance.”
To help make advance trip planning easier, the latest update to HERE Maps on the web also gives you quicker access to the time picker, which lets you choose departure or arrival time for public transit. Now, instead of having to seek this out within the settings menu, you see the option to change the date or time right above the list of possible transit routes.
When planning a route, we’ve also balanced different navigation options: rather than focusing so much on drive, we’ve added more information to the transit stops on the map. In cities where we have transit information, click on a station to see which mode of transit is available and the scheduled departures. You can also click the clock icon to select a later departure time. If you see an orange icon next to the departure time, then real-time departure information is available.
You can also search for a station by name or, if you are looking at another place on the map, we automatically show you the next closest transit stop to that location. Click on the stop and get all the details for that station.
“Any time we make changes, especially bigger redesigns like our last one at the end of 2014, we get a lot of feedback. We take the negative feedback very seriously and this helps inform our design process. We made these latest changes to give us a solid base to build on for future work. It’s a continuous process that won’t end here,” concludes Minna.
All the latest improvements are ready for you to experience now on maps.here.com. Check them out and let us know what you’d like to see next in the comments below.