Web map applications are growing in popularity year-by-year as they have the ability to convey data in a meaningful way, and provide spatial context to data. As such, businesses and organizations have had an increasing appetite for geospatial data, and the visualization of such data in maps. However the investment in staff and software to pursue this as a medium is not to be underestimated. If you want your organization to succeed in utilizing web mapping as an approach to communication, there are a few strategies you need to consider to ensure its success.
- Understand your web map traffic
Gather detailed information about your web map traffic sessions. The goal is to understand not only how many people visited your map, but how long their stay was, which activities were performed or if they bounced. Ask yourself, did the map succeed in delivering its message based on these results?
- Measure success or failure of each web map
Measure web map traffic and engagement rates, and compare results over time or to similar web maps to create a benchmark. There are many reasons a map may fail or succeed to convey its message, and the first step is to set goals, track them and have a benchmark for success or failure.
- Measure the success or failure of the mapping software, template, style.
By measuring and testing as described above you will be able to compare the rate of success of different map styles, base layers , or even datasets. You can also evaluate different mapping platforms using this approach, comparing Google Maps, to Esri maps or Mapbox maps for example
- Measure the success of your geospatial efforts and GIS department.
Geospatial software is typically quite expensive, and GIS staff also come at a significant cost. To ensure that your geospatial efforts are providing some kind of return on investment, the use of analytics provides direct feedback on those efforts.
By tracking Metrics and defining goals you will be able to investigate if your web mapping efforts is a good use of resources. You may need to use this information to make decisions around budgeting or to simply provide detailed reporting to highlight success to upper management.
If you want to succeed in utilizing web maps as a meaningful communication medium, then tracking metrics on its success or failure is how you need to proceed. The alternative to this strategy is to hope they succeed. Hope is not a strategy.