In my work, if we talk about a project site in some detail and you bring it up a week later, I have to think a bit to get it fixed back in my head. Same with visiting a new city and driving to a project site using only written directions. I may have trouble finding it again later. But if I see a site plan or find a location on a map, it’s burned into my brain. I’m spatial.
Tulsa Online 2.0 will need excellent interactive maps to support all of its text because there are lots of other spatial people like me. In the world of land development a picture really is worth a bunch of words. Even if you’re not spatial and have a hard time with maps, the interactive GIS maps proposed as part of this concept must be designed so they’re almost intuitive to use. They must be designed so they’re usable and useful.
Here’s a good example from Greeley, Colorado that provides all sorts of property data by zooming and panning and clicking. Look around a bit and you’ll see that Greeley has done a good job helping you learn how to use their map. Once you’re oriented, there’s a wealth of useful information with very few clicks.
Providing great visual content is essential but usability is still key because a visitor must be able to quickly figure out how to use the map system or they’ll leave frustrated and blame it on the system. The team that assembles and maintains Tulsa Online 2.0 needs not only GIS and other techno geeks but it needs people who are sensitive to how people navigate, learn, process information, and react to their experience. It always comes back to usability.