Between touch screens and scroll wheels, are the + and - zoom buttons on a Leaflet map really necessary? I'd really like to remove them if there's no significant case for keeping them there. Not just for space savings, but primarily to declutter since there are many other buttons that can use that space instead.

  • Think about in-car application - try to pinch-zoom a sat-nav map while driving. For example, Maps.me does have + and - buttons (which I highly appreciate) while Google Maps doesn't (that's why I use Google only for traffic visualisation).
    – Mike
    May 8, 2019 at 6:38
  • @Mike in google maps you can zoom in/out using just one finger by double tapping, which might be even more convenient than + - depending on your personal taste (no need to aim for a button)
    – szulat
    May 8, 2019 at 8:19
  • 1
    It may depend a lot on your users too, some people (mostly older in my experience) just don't know/use gestures and rely on standards like this. I know people that still click and drag on scrollbars instead of using their scrollwheel/trackpad, or right click copy instead of ctrl+c, it just depends on your audience.
    – DasBeasto
    May 8, 2019 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


You’re asking slightly the wrong question. As anyone who has watched a usability test will tell you, if you add a button at least some people will click it.

The real question I think you’re asking is whether people would struggle if the buttons weren’t there and I would suggest many people would, but I can’t prove it without testing (and neither can anyone else).

The reason I’d be concerned is that gestural zoom controls (double tap, pinch to zoom, etc.) are not particularly discoverable. There’s nothing about a flat map that inherently affords zooming, and so it’s plausible that someone wouldn’t realise they could zoom if they’re not seeing a specific control for it.

Buttons are also much more accessible than gestures; people can press buttons with a single finger, with certain motor difficulties, with low quality touch screens, with assistive tech (on the web you can invoke a button with the keyboard, and in a car you can often find equivalent capabilities with controllers like dials or steering wheel buttons but how do you invoke a “pinch” at a distance?).

Your underlying problem about obscuring the map is a reasonable issue. You could possibly consider fading the controls out and bringing them back in when the user taps the display anywhere, or leaving them visible until the user invokes a zoom in some other way. Just make sure you test that your design hasn’t introduced a usability concern.

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    On the accessibility front, people can press a button with a stylus while wearing gloves. Pinching with a stylus is somewhat harder.
    – Mark
    Jun 1, 2022 at 21:33

The thinking behind not implementing the buttons is because the zoom/pinch gestures are almost considered second nature these days.

A cleaner UI allows the user to focus on the content, which in this case is finding a location on a map. The buttons within a mobile context of such limited real estate can be of a nuisance and can just get in the way.

However, keep in mind that most of the users will be using only one hand. Of course there's still the option to double tap, but the buttons still provide more accuracy, you could consider a sliding bar on the side of the screen? Less clutter, still accurate.

I would use a less prominent UI than the example below.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Your one-hand operation is a good point. One could also observe that the double-tap provides a one-handed shortcut for zooming in, but there is no obvious convention for similarly zooming out. May 9, 2019 at 13:20
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    @maxathousand you’re right that it isn’t obvious but just for the record there are two conventions for zooming out on a map one-handed that I’m aware of (they both work in Google Maps and Apple Maps on iOS at least): tapping with two fingers at once, and double tapping and sliding your finger down on the last tap (sliding up zooms in too, so you can fine tune your zoom level this way, similar to pinch and zoom without needing two fingers).
    – Kit Grose
    May 15, 2019 at 23:03

As we consider the present technology of the Touch-screens & the touch pads, Most of the people tends to use the pinching and spreading to use the zoom functionality, so by prioritising with all the possible functionality which can be placed at that position, the zoom functionality can be removed or placed.

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