Author: Yogi Schulz

Maps are a useful, low-cost way to enhance an enterprise web site once we’re ready to move beyond text and simple graphics. The widely divergent approaches enterprise web sites employ to communicate information through maps illustrate the do’s and don’ts.

Frequently the value of maps is to help our customers find us as easily in the real world after they’ve found us on the Web. Maps also cut down on the all the phone calls asking for directions. Here are some ideas, derived from evaluating various web sites, that will be useful for incorporating maps into our enterprise web sites.

Map Effectiveness offers a quick store locator with an excellent map. I particularly like the various navigation options like change scale, re-center map, find another store and click on list of neighboring stores. Providing a button to display a list of in-store specials is a great touch that starts the merchandising process before the potential customer has even left their home.

The web site is a great example of helping customers find the place. Many of us a lulled into thinking that because we know where we are, everybody else does too. The CN Tower web site makes no such assumption. It begins with a photograph above a simple local map that’s just a GIF; not an actual map. Then if you click on Map, 3 maps at different scales are displayed: local, regional and half a continent. This web site illustrates that a cheap solution can be effective. combines good maps with textual driving directions on a single sheet. McDonalds also offers Maneuver Maps that are a series of small maps that focus in on intersections where the driving instructions require a turn.

{I like the automobile dealer location maps produced at because of the ability to display a second map that shows the surrounding area at a larger scale with a single click. The GM web site never did manage to display a map for me. That’s a reminder that performance still counts.}

For simple, cheap and effective, go to Click on Store Locator, click on a province on a simple map of Canada, click on a city name and an easy-to-read map pops up.

For a bad example, look at that only offers lists of stores without a map and no textual driving instructions.

An ugly example is the map at Even the enlarged version makes the route and the directions hard to follow.

Map Technology

Having used a tour of various web sites to illustrate the good, the bad and the ugly, let’s now examine available technology to help us add maps to our enterprise web site.

The obvious first step is to use a drawing program like Corel Draw to create a graphic that looks like a map. For simple maps that don’t need zoom or pan, this approach is cheap and fast.

A good second step is to consider licensing Microsoft MapPoint or MapQuest software and services to add mapping functionality to your web site. This approach works well if your mapping requirements are based only on address information.

If the maps we want to display at our web site integrate public and proprietary data, we can develop more sophisticated maps using a rich set of software products. The major products for implementing maps on web sites are AutoDesk MapGuide, ESRI IMS, Intergraph WebMap and MapInfo Discovery.

Each supplier listed above and Telus Geomatics offer a number of demos that can spur creative thinking about how to approach adding maps to a web site.


Maps can be a useful enhancement to almost every web site. If your web site offers no maps, the price to shape up is not high. If you’re interested in the list of links associated with the observations about maps, please send me an e-mail.