Using the new web site, people researching and procuring the data can take advantage of a logical, accessible and user-friendly interface to read about, view, compare and contrast a massive range of products (thousands of individual data sets) from dozens of suppliers covering the UK and the rest of the world – and they can do all this through a neat, uncluttered and intuitive interface that significantly reduces the potential complexity of the task.
As it is fully transactional web site, users can then progress right through to the point of ordering and paying for their products online. These include map data from famous names such as AA, Ordnance Survey and NAVTEQ, and a wide range of data products from leading suppliers in the UK and around the world.
Behind the project is MapMechanics, one of Britain’s longest-established specialists in digital map data and geographic information systems. Having supplied mapping products for many years, the company decided to invest in a resource that would cut through the challenges of presenting complex data accessibly, and would put users squarely in control of the search, review and purchase process.
The task of navigating through this potentially complex environment has been made strikingly straightforward. By grouping products and subject areas logically, the allmapdata web interface leads users as quickly as possible to the products they want – providing exactly the right amount of detail at each step of the process.
Even though this is such a wide-ranging field, products are grouped under just seven logical top-level headings – road and street maps; navigation and speeds; postcode points and geocoders; boundary data; demographics and business, gazetteers; and aerial, 3D and satellite mapping.
Each heading then presents data consistently by world region, and within each region by category, data type, country, local region, scale and brand or supplier.
Whilst avoiding intrusive technology, the allmapdata site quietly harnesses advanced web techniques such as AJAX to deliver data cleanly without overwhelming its users. For instance, there is a built-in price converter, which will display the price of any product on demand in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars. Once the user selects a different currency, it remembers the choice until it is changed again. The price calculator also updates the figure instantly for each chosen product according to which multi-user option is selected.
Another simple but useful feature is the site’s ability to remember how many search results each user wants per page.
Users can also add individual products to a “saved” list and return to them later, and can add products they have compared directly to this list. Unusually, they can even save freeform comments against each saved product – notes such as “This map looks like the best for our needs, but check out the detailed features” or “John – I have included five-user and ten-user options as I wasn’t sure how many your department needs”.
As well as being able to see their own recently-viewed products, users can also call up a list of commonly-used search terms; the bolder the heading, the more often it has been searched on.
Not only does the site list products and features, it also offers informative commentary alongside many products, providing invaluable background details on what the product includes and what it is typically used for.
Many of the products are illustrated, and popup pictures allow users to view images in more detail. The amount of enlargement varies subtly with context; for instance, in multi-product listings a modest-sized view pops up automatically when the mouse hovers over a picture, while in single-product view, users can click to see a much larger image.
The new web site was built in-house by MapMechanics’
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MapMechanics has been providing innovative solutions in logistics planning, sales and marketing, digital mapping and geographic analysis for over twenty years.
MapMechanics distributes a wide range of data products including AA, NAVTEQ and Ordnance Survey digital mapping, as well as leading business and demographic datasets from many sources throughout the world. This data is listed on MapMechanics’
MapMechanics also uses digital map-based technologies to offer an extensive range of Web, desktop, paper and component solutions for a variety of business applications, from atlas production to business analysis, site selection, customer profiling and vehicle routing and scheduling.
Backing up its extensive product range, MapMechanics offers a comprehensive service of implementation support and training.