Let's say we can display exact and approximate points on a map. Approximate points have a constant distance from an exact point. Which means they lie on the circle described by this distance, where the distance is the radius of the circle.

Exact points can be displayed as dots, circles, or pointers. But how should I display approximate points? I have the following initial thoughts:

  1. Show as a circle, in a different color than an exact point. The circle can be made more transparent with each zoom-in. There are a few ideas for showing list of locations when we are close enough, when circle is full sized on a screen, or when it's similarly as a dot as exact points.
  2. Show as a dot similar to that used for exact points but in a different color. A legend with be provided for the user to differentiate between the two dots.

There are some extremely important points to consider:

  1. map can be zoomed in and out
  2. points could be close, so their area of approximation could intersect
  3. It would be better if approximate points are a little bit less visible / remarkable
  4. possible to display area polygons
  5. exact and approximate points should be clickable. But there is also the option of making approximate points clickable from UI elements external to the map, for example a list.

Could you suggest any other approaches?

  • Can you provide some more context so we can understand when and how this map is being used? So far it sounds like this is viewable on a smartphone or tablet and is meant to be used while traveling.
    – Gerald F.
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 19:22
  • Given that you've used a circle to define approximate points I don't get how a dot (option 2) can be used to represent it on the map. Am I missing something? Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 20:18
  • This map is going to be used for the real estate agencies. Means it will be used on the mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Mostly on the table and desktop devices, than on mobiles. Normally it will be used in quiet time, when people can just sit and search for their dream property. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 9:37
  • Second example is just the same dot as an exact, except the color. Somewhere should be a legend noticing that: red points are approximate points, and green are exact points. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 9:42

1 Answer 1


You should use a transparent circle that when hovered over becomes highlighted. Hovering over intersecting circles will need some special logic to determine which circle is the one the user intends to select. Perhaps based on the distance from the center of the circle.

Hovering over items in the list should also highlight both the item and the location it represents.

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