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I am in the process of designing a mobile application for both Android and iOs that displays certain elements on a map.

On the map itself I show your current position relevant to other people. Clicking on a person's position will bring up a pop-up/tooltip containing relevant information about the position.

More than this, the user will require certain 'map tools' in order to interact with the map. These tools could include

  • changing map type
  • zooming to my current position
  • filter out certain entities (like a toggle)
  • lock to a specific entity as they move on the map
  • create a POI
  • etc
  • etc

The challenge is whether to have these map tools permanently placed on the map or expose them when needed.

The first option is to have them in a bar or as individual icons permanently across the bottom or top of the screen. The pro's for having them permanently on screen are:

  • they are permanently available for ease of use

The cons for having them permanently on screen are:

  • These take up very valuable map space
  • We are limited to a max of 5 actions and the requirement is that in future we would like to add further map tools.

The second option is hiding the map tools behind a 'tools' button on the top bar and exposing them in an action sheet as and when needed.

The pro's for having them hidden behind a button are:

  • we are able to have many more than 5 options for map tools
  • We use the full real estate of the map

The cons for having them permanently on screen are: - More clicks to perform the actions - They may be harder to find

Can anyone suggest an alternative that will solve all the needs

  • show maximum map real estate
  • does not limit the number of map tools and allows us to add more with future releases
  • Will be easy for the user to find and interact with
  • Draw some mocks – ADOConnection Jun 26 '14 at 11:45
  • I have done mockups. The PM wants one and the mobile developers want the other. I would like to find out if there is a solution that somehow meets both. Or ensure that we pick the most user friendly version. – Lauren van der Vyver Jun 26 '14 at 18:28
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    Why would you care what PM and developers want? Ask your users. You are making an app for users, not for devs and PMs. So print your mocks and ask users what they like. After you got feedback decide how to make most liked mock with less effort and its done. – ADOConnection Jun 26 '14 at 19:37
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You need to prioritize your requirements and place appropriate buttons on the map. You can place the buttons near any of the four corners(with some margin ofcourse)
An example would be:

  • Place the 'my-location' button on the map. this is so that the user can quickly return to his current location. For me, even though it takes some space, it is something that my users want to be visible always.
  • Place a settings icon near another corner. Tapping on the icon can bring up a menu(from left or right) with options to manage few settings).
  • probably have another button for filters

Basically by prioritizing your features with an hybrid approach, you can bring down the total clicks and still keep the real estate on map clean.

Hope this helps.

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