I am writing a web application that displays vehicles on a map.

Currently it's displayed like so, but I'm looking to see if anyone has any better ideas on how to improve it, it currently feels a bit lacking.

These points are key information to the user. I have left a note on each one as to my thoughts about how they are currently represented.

  • Current speed (number in centre). Not particularly obvious.
  • Direction (tail, bottom right of circle). Fairly obvious but may need highlighting more.
  • Vehicle State (background colour, currently yellow). Not obvious. (yellow means in transit)
  • Identification (currently vehicle registration, could be driver name? or both? driver picture?)

enter image description here

Note that the frequency of vehicles are likely to be 50-500 and usually cover a modest area (i.e. a region of, or a small country). We currently use clustering to show high density of vehicles.

  • 2
    Why would you be needing all this information. I cannot find a reason to show the current speed of a vehicle in an overview application as you are describing. If showing speed has some aspect of controlling whether people aren't speeding, then show only when they are speeding. (for example: turn the vehicle indicator red). Could you specify why your users need this information? Sep 14, 2016 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


A first question is needed: who are your users? Is this open to generic users or to trained specialists? I would use different forms for indicating both status and movement direction. I used a trianagle here to indicate that the veichle is moving and the direction (right). Other veichle is still (represented like with a circle, but you can use any other shape like a square, octagon, etc. License plate and speed are indicated at their side like in flight control radar screens. enter image description here Moreover, what are the Vehicle States possible? If they are just "moving/not-moving" there is no need to specify it further, just look at its speed. If you have more states I would rather use forms. About the identification, it depends on what users need. In my opinion a text is always ok. The license plate would be best since the number of letters are limited and known (what if a driver's name is "Maurizio-Filippo Lante Della Rovere?")

  • I wouldn't use an equilateral triangle to indicate movement in one direction. Assuming North is the top of that image, that icon could just as easily be representing NNW or SSW movement. Dec 14, 2016 at 15:51
  • yes I agree, unfortunately my mockup software included only equilateral ones. I just intended to use a "pointy" shape indicating the direction Dec 14, 2016 at 16:06

I would use what ever the speed limit sign is in your area as the icon. Here in Canada it's a white rectangle with a specific font size, and says speed limit, you could write just speed, localized of course.

Otherwise I would think about why are you providing so much data in a small pattern, is all of this data needed at a glance for multiple vehicles or can I click on the icon and get more information about the vehicle?


Direction (tail, bottom right of circle). Fairly obvious but may need highlighting more.

I'm not sure you're correct about the obviousness. Is it a pointer, or a tail? You've said it's a tail, but I had to think about what you meant, because to me it could just as easily be "pointing the way".

Is the licence tag recognisably meant to represent the local licence plate? Is it possible (and do you care) whether non-local licence plates need to be represented? (You've shown a snippet of Scotland, so English and Irish plates would be reasonable to expect)

Where is the information coming from?

You might need to provide more information about the motivation for the map. Is it privacy-violating (tracking individuals)? If so, you might want to question whether you should be involved. If it's only to show roadway loading, then you don't really need speed or identity at all, but just blocks for stretches of roadway giving number of vehicles and average speed, possibly changing with the clock.

Of course, you might have a completely different purpose, in which case you'd want to do something else.

  • Thanks for the response. We track fleet vehicles so our customers can better manage their freight workload. Our customer base is primarily UK based.
    – Chris
    Sep 15, 2016 at 7:43
  • That narrows it down, thanks. Do your customers want to know the exact speed, or only whether it's above/within/below some range? Unless drivers are assigned randomly, and it's important to know the identity of each driver, it seems to me that the licence plate is fine. If you made the teardrop into, e.g., a circle with an arrow through, you could make the circle a speedometer readout--which would be particularly good if range was sufficient rather than exact speed. If you were to use the arrow, you could move it in relation to the circle to show portion of trip remaining.
    – MMacD
    Sep 15, 2016 at 14:12

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