I'm designing a product that has a serious audience and isn't supposed to look playful. I'm struggling with whether it's better to use circles as marking a point on a map or the more traditional balloon map marker. Think: enter image description here

When I design it, the product looks less playful when I use circles, but circles cover up the point on the map.

Any suggestions?

  • I think one of the main intentions of the balloon style used lies at the bottom of the element which offers a point description of where the location actually is versus a circle which may offer more area covered unless you're using a circle with some kind of tail to signify where the location is? Do you have an example of the circle element you're talking about? Oct 12, 2017 at 9:58

3 Answers 3


The balloon style map markers are the most convenient and are becoming a standard. What you can do is create a variation that would look more professional. You may try to change the following dimensions :

  • Shape : A less round shape looks more professional
  • Color : Use low saturation colors, they look more serious, for example black or grey. The color though, must have enough contrast with the background to be noticeable.

For example in the article Customize your Google Map Markers you can find some more professionally looking map markers :

enter image description here


Poffenberger, A. T., & Barrows, B. E. (1924). The Feeling Value of Lines

Design for Emotion by Trevor Van Gorp, Edie Adams Elsevier, 2012, Section Lines have feeilings too, Fig. 4.36

How Color Saturation Affects User Efficiency

  • 4
    "A less round shape looks more professional" - Do you have any sources backing this statement up? Or is it your personal opinion? Legit curious. Oct 12, 2017 at 8:21
  • @PectoralisMajor very good comment. I have added references. Thanks. Oct 12, 2017 at 10:06

IMO to mark a point in map it is better to use traditional map markers due to two reasons. 1. People are easy to relate with. And they are distinguishable shape. 2. Google uses circles with icons to show restaurants, perolstations etc...

So if you also use circles then it might might get mixed up with other circles.


I'd go with the platform standards and read up on what is expected by your users. If you're integrating with Google Maps different types of pins could have a different meaning. If you're marking a single location, multiple locations or a geolocation these could all potentially render differently.


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