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I am designing an interface where users are using facets to narrow down entertainment venues (from a very broad range - more than 1000 experiences).

Part of the UI includes showing a google maps screen where all these locations are displayed with custom pins.

map example. (don't mind the locations on water. these are random generated coordinates while i'm playing with the interface)

Now I am considering to perhaps customize the visual style of the map itself and, say, pick one of the styles from http://snazzymaps.com/

The benefits I can imagine are two:

  • Silencing the visual noise of redundant information and making the custom pins stand out more

  • Establish an unique look and feel about the site/interface

Drawbacks I imagine:

  • Users might feel alienated and/or confused and fail to recognize google maps interface underneath and thus fail to discover available functionality

What are any other considerations I should take into account when deciding upon this matter?

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I believe you are approaching this with a premise that all users are aware of all the functionality which is associated with Google maps and would know how to use it and an updated design would perhaps confuse them. While that might be true for specific users, it might not be the case with all users.

My recommendation would be to do some usability testing and A/B testing to see how your potential user group behaves as that would define how successful your maps are going to be.

That said, if you decide to go with a custom map, ensure the design paradaigms are followed and you use standard icons ,features and representations which would allow the users to understand what the reference in the map means.I strongly recommend reading this excellent article from smashing magazine which talks about Maps in modern design

The above article also references some custom maps which companies have created to ensure a different look but serve the same functionality.

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