(Note: This post is part of two major announcements for Bing Maps/Local on Dec. 15. Be sure to check out the other announcement about Interior Views, OpenTable, Real-time Transit, & Streetside on Mobile)
A few months ago, we launched our new map style which provides a unique backdrop for information delivery and helps content "pop" on the map, allowing people to find what they are looking for more quickly.
The initial feedback was positive but we were given great constructive feedback â€“ users appreciated the new style’s uniqueness and loved the clean, calm look; but, some felt it made aspects of our maps more difficult to read. Specifically, users were interested in:
1. City density – how many cities appear at each zoom level?
2. Street differentiation â€“ can viewers tell which city streets are major and minor?
3. Color contrast â€“ are different map components easily distinguishable?
We’ve updated our map style to reflect user feedback so it’s even easier for people to find where to go, how to get there, and what to expect along the way. Key changes are:
A. Increased city density while preserving a clean, visually appealing map
B. Clearer differentiation between major and minor city streets
C. Greater color contrast at the city-level so streets "pop" out more
D. Altered font sizes and contrast for crisper, less cluttered map labels
E. Improved highway shields for US and added new shields for 7 countries
Pictures are worth thousands of words though, so let’s jump into screenshots (or just head straight to Bing Maps to explore). It is difficult to distinguish the differences in these lower-resolution screenshots, so please click on the screenshots or text links to view the full-size pictures
Screenshots #1 & #2 â€“ Zoom Level 5, United States Western/Mountain and Central/Eastern Zones
- Â· Increased city density to avoid large expanses of empty space and bring up cities people are likely interested in (See: Montana/Idaho/Utah/Wyoming/Dakotas in Screenshot #2 and Southeastern states in Screenshot #3)
- Â· Added thousands of city labels in less populated areas while reducing overcrowding in the most densely populated ones. Also ensured that cities and state/province names do not overlap where possible to improve readability.
Screenshots #3 â€“ Zoom Level 16 Seattle
- Â· This screenshot demonstrates a lot of the color contrast and brightness changes made at lower detail levels to differentiate among streets.
- Â· Freeways (such as I5) had their color intensified by 200% and brightness increased by 5%. Major roads (such as 4th Ave) had their color intensified by 400% and brightness increased by 5 points. Minor roads (such as 1st Ave) had their color intensified by 200% and brightness increased by 5 points as well.
Screenshot #4â€“ Zoom Level 4, United States
- Â· Sharpened the font for state/province names and country names to improve readability
- Â· Reduced the information detail at this zoom for smaller countries to reduce clutter (See: Mexico and island countries in the Gulf)
Screenshots #5 â€“ Zoom Level 6, Pacific Northwest United States
- Â· Altered the city sizes appearing at this zoom level to better reflect populated areas
- Â· Adjusted font sizes and label locations of wilderness parks to improve readability (See: Central Idaho and "Warm Springs IR", Oregon
Screenshots #6 â€“ Zoom Level 8, Pacific Northwest United States
- Â· Increased city density along coastlines (See: Neah Bay, Agnew, Forks, etc)
- Â· Decreased the amount of area labels near major cities to improve readability and make room for more relevant content (See: Seattle/Bellevue area, "Highway 405" sign)
Screenshots #7 â€“ Zoom Level 11, Taiwan
- Â· Added new highway signs to improve readability and better differentiate highway types
- Â· This an additional example of city density and label adjustments to improve readability
- Â· New highway signs for : Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Malysia, Mexico, New Zealand & Taiwan
Screenshots #8 & #9 â€“ Zoom Level 13, San Francisco and New York City Neighbords
- Â· Increased the number of neighborhoods shown in cities (See: Midtown, Flatiron, and Turtle Bay in NYC for example)
- Â· Altered street and neighborhood label size and placement to avoid overlap and improve readability (See: Hell’s Kitchen area and Mission District or Chinatown in SF)
Screenshots #10 â€“ Zoom Level 15, New York City
- Â· Changed the public transit icons to regain space
- Â· Added building extrusions at lower levels (See: Building patterns in between city streets)
- Â· Another example of the increased color contrast for major streets (See: 9th and 8th Avenue versus 7th Avenue or 56th St versus 54th St.)
And there you have it. This update goes a long way in improving our map style and how users experience interact with Bing Maps. This change will affect all Bing Maps platforms: the main site,the Silverlight site, Bing Maps on Bing Mobile, and our Enterprise/API platform.
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