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For an Android application, I have to display points on a map (with the Google Maps API). All the points are in one country (in France).

The question is:

Does it make sense to restrict the map to this specific area (i.e disable the navigation through the rest of the world)?

After discussing about that with some colleages, the following pros and cons were raised.

Pros

  • Make the navigation easier thanks to a smaller area
  • Avoid the possibility of being lost in the map
  • Limit the data consumption

Cons

  • Give to the users the feeling of being supervised
  • Vary from the classic UX of this kind of application
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can restrict the map in a tricky way. When user goes out of the target area, the map shows in some way it's no more useful for them. This could be fading out effect, blurring and desatiration, etc., see the picture below:
enter image description here

Another option is to create tension while dragging out of the target area. Compare this to the last slide signifier in the sliding image gallery, see animation:

enter image description here

The idea is to make "gently", but obvious restriction for users, so they clearly undestand, that map area out of the target is no more useful in the task's context. And anyway user need feedback on restriction, it will be clear and fair for them.

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You have greate ideas ;). But there is still one thing that I am wondering: these solutions look pretty simple and efficient, so why aren't they used in others applications? Maybe they are but I haven't found yet such an example. –  G.T. Jul 30 at 20:25
    
@G.T. Let's consider we have established a new pattern. –  Alexey Kolchenko Jul 30 at 20:31
    
Well, why not ;) Thanks for your help –  G.T. Jul 30 at 20:41
1  
I think that, if you go this way, this should be combined with disabling navigation... in case the user lost the focus away from France, he would just see a fully blurred map, with which the user will have more difficult which part of the world is represented and how to go back to France. –  SJuan76 Jul 31 at 0:28

enter image description here

I recommend muting the map by greying it out and reducing the amount of information it displays beyond France. If the navigation is suddenly disabled for a user exploring the map beyond France, there is a chance the user will interpret it as a bug and close the application.

Furthermore, what happens for the user who loads the map in another country? Is the navigation inoperable for those users from the start? Theoretically, these could be French travellers.

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Users can be out of France but they know that this application only contains points for France. If they are not in France, the idea is to pop up a message saying something like "There is no point in your country, you will be moved to France". –  G.T. Jul 31 at 9:13

I would not overdo it. Just add to the map (or in the menu) a "Home" button that centers your map in the desired area.

PROs:

  • Easy to implement and understand.

  • The user still has the full functionality of the map if he wants, for example, see how far point B in France is from his house in Munich.

  • Flexible and expandible (want to use the app for several countries? just change the "home" button with a choser with the list of countries).

CONs:

  • Real state used by the button. A button inside the map might be more easy to operate, but there is the risk of annoying the users because, when navigating, they hit the button often.

The only time I would consider the "blur the outside of the country" proposal would be where the user is able to set new points or move them. In that case, it would serve as a guide of the locations where points may be set.

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