Geo Spatial Simplicity: Designing Map Interfaces for Bushfire Planning

By Paul Haimes, Stuart Medley and Barnard Clarkson.

Published by The International Journal of Visual Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 22, 2014 $US5.00

We are part of a team working in collaboration with Landgate, the department of land information in Western Australia, on a project that is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant. FireWatch is a web-based map application that was originally developed by Landgate to provide members of emergency services organisations and government departments with information on fire locations in Western Australia. While FireWatch was originally intended to be used by these technically inclined, subject-proficient users, we are tasked with creating a new version aimed at the wider community, with a particular focus on rural communities in northern Australia. Due to the fact that the interface will be used by a wide variety of users and potentially under stressful circumstances, we are attempting to traverse a delicate balance between functionality and ease of use. Some theory from human-computer interaction (HCI) has suggested that simplicity as a design goal is overrated. However, we believe that giving users a minimal, simple layout will maximise ease of use across several web-enabled devices and improve overall usability. As part of the design process, we are utilising user testing to ensure that we are providing optimal functionality for users.

Keywords: Interface Design, Map Design, Geo-spatial Design, Information Design, HCI, Designing for Emergencies

The International Journal of Visual Design, Volume 7, Issue 2, April 2014, pp.37-45. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 700.554KB)).

Mr Paul Haimes

Graduate Student, School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley, WA, Australia

Mr. Paul Haimes is a master of communications (by research) student at Edith Cowan University. He has a postgraduate diploma in creative industries, specialising in interactive media development. He also has over 10 years of professional experience in information technology and multimedia, working for both the public and private sectors. His primary focus is on making software interfaces usable and engaging across multiple platforms and devices.

Dr. Stuart Medley

Lecturer, School of Communication and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley, WA, Australia

Dr. Stuart Medley is an award winning designer and illustrator. His illustrations and comics have been published internationally and are in the Michael Hill Collection at the Australian National Library. He is a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University and has presented research at international conferences including TypoGraphic2005, Lebanon, and the NewViews 2008 conference at the LCC in London. His book, The Picture in Design, describing ways for the graphic design discipline to understand and evaluate images, will be published in late 2012.

Dr. Barnard Clarkson

Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Communication and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Mt. Lawley, WA, Australia

Barnard Clarkson is currently an honorary senior research fellow in the school of communications and arts at Edith Cowan University, where he previously coordinated interactive digital media and multimedia. His research interests presently include the design and representation of digital and visual media in learning and the adult acquisition of knowledge, with abiding interests in evaluation and roles of metacognition in online learning. He has a long background in education, film-making and media from working in schools, as well as degrees in economics and education (with honours) and a postgraduate qualification in computing.