Let’s assume you know how to build a business map. You may be experienced or perhaps you’re new to business mapping and just good with tech and you’ve got a map ready to present. I recommend you stop and consider your map before you take it to a meeting or just publish it through online map sharing.
I prepare many maps for the Map Business Online map gallery using my personal Map Business Online subscription. Once I’m more or less happy with it, I rebuild the map again into our gallery map builder. This process map development gives me a second chance to consider all of my color shades, symbol choices, and text placements. It always improves my map.
So, for this blog analysis lets discuss the final tweaks one might make and the map making steps to double-check before going live. Don’t view a business map as a novelty. It is every bit as critical to your business reputation as a white paper or an Excel-based analysis might be.
You map is done. You’ve imported all the data you require to make your map-point. Your map feels like its ready. Here is a list of things I do before I officially publish a map.
Review Imported Data Symbols – Take a look at your imported data layer symbols. Do they make sense? Could you use a building symbol instead of a dot? I actually prefer dots but one of my bosses likes building symbols. Are your sizes large enough to make sense on the map and the legend (which refers to these layers) or should you adjust the sizes down to tone down the map.
The colors of symbols should be discernible over any color shaded map layers. Discernible means the map viewer can easily distinguish between map point and map background. You don’t need to set the points on fire, just differentiate them. Keep that map easy on the eyes.
Map Layer Choice – Map layer choices for me often relate to demographic data categories I may want to highlight. If it’s a territory map, map layer choices revolve around territory base units. These are often ZIP codes. For my Opioid map I felt county map layers made the most sense because the problem is both national and local. For more local problems I might choose a ZIP code layer.
Color shadings of map layers should be double checked to make sure color shading is appropriate – not to bright or washed out by too much transparency. Just go to Map & Data and hover over the layer to adjust the settings on map layer look and feel. Go into the General settings tab. Try a transparency setting of 50%. Need more background map detail? Move it to 70%. Need more solid colors? Try 30%.
Text Items – Your map should include a Map Legend or Map Key that describes relevant layers. Turn off those layers in the legend that are not adding value. For instance, if you have a state layer turned on for boundary reference only, there’s no need to list it in the Map Legend. Your map readers know what a state is.
If you’ve got a lot of territories with labels displayed on the map, do your map viewer a favor and uncheck the territory layer in the legend. Avoid redundant map text – space is limited.
Consolidate lines where possible. I tend to erase and uncategorized data references such as “no data” or “undefined.” If you can combine a title line and subtext line – do it. Less is more in mapping.
Spelling – Review your text phrases for dumb mistakes, poor word choice or for more clarity. Check spelling. Just because your map is not writing per se, you are not off the hook for spelling errors. Here’s what people are thinking when they look at a decent map with spelling errors. “Brad’s got a nice map here, too bad he made himself look like a dimwit with those spelling mistakes. I’m taking his parking space tomorrow.” (And I know I have some grammar and spelling errors in my blog from time to time. Stay out of my parking space.)
Other items to check
- Consider a different map background – check the options for a more appropriate look and feel
- Don’t turn on all imported data layers, just the critical ones
- Include a map title that defines the map in just a few words
- Use map layer labels to display more data where necessary
Map communicate through visualizations and visual themes related to locations. Adding too many themes and layers can confuse your audience. It’s important to limit your map objectives to just a few messages. Your business map reflects your work ethic and your communication style. Spelling errors, map clutter, and saying dumb stuff reflects on you.
Make your business map a professional statement about how you conduct business communication around the office. Be the problem solving map geek, not the messy map guy with no parking space.
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