Archive for the ‘Interface’ Category

Widget Algorithm for Displaying Locations

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I’m going to describe here the algorithm we use in the widget to determine which locations to display. We are considering using this algorithm for the main site and we want our readers to comment on that and suggest improvements. It’s fairly simple.

First, we set a limit of 60 markers. If there are less than 60 markers in the span of view, all of them get displayed. If there are more than 60 markers, then we use our statistics to determine which are more important. Right now, we use “last viewed”. So markers that have been viewed recently go on the top of the list, and markers that haven’t been viewed for a long time go on the bottom of the list. Every time you view a marker, it goes to the top of the list.

I realize that this may not be the top choice statistic to use, but for right now, it’s the cheapest in terms of computing resources and development time. We can switch measures fairly easily, but we’re going to monitor how this one works out first.

Another aspect of this design: suppose you looking are on the neighborhood level. The neighborhood markers get displayed first. Then then street level markers. Therefore, if there are more than 60 neighborhood markers, no street levels will get displayed. If there are 40 neighborhood markers, all of those will get displayed, and the top 20 street level markers will show up. Likewise, city markers take precendence over both.

Play around with our widget ( and tell us what you think either by leaving a comment, or emailing us at


Update to FAQ and Tutorials

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Upon request from several community organizations using our community mapping tool, we’ve updated our FAQ and Tutorials sections. We added some new Flash step-by-step tutorials to explain how to create SuperMaps, and answered some questions that we’ve been asked.

If you do not find these helpful, please contact us and let us know how we can help.

New Terminology for Categories: Personal Maps

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I posted about our categories feature and asked for feedback on how to make it more understandable to use.  This led to an interface upgrade which was already in development, which simply made categorizing less cumbersome.

Now based on some of our feedback from that post, we have decided on a terminology change: categories will now be called “personal maps”.  It will still work much the same way, but we want to emphasize the fact that you can use this feature to group markers together and create maps that are subsets of the larger Stickymap.

We expect this change over the next week.  Let us know if you have any questions or feedback.

Categories: Interface Upgrade Planned

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Categories are a little-known feature in Stickymap. When you log in and click a location, you can select “categorize” to bring you to the categorization screen. From here, you can place locations into different categories which are labeled by text (or “tags” as we call them). After doing some studies, we’ve concluded that the interface for categories is a little bit hard to follow, so we’ve decided to try to simplify it for our users.

It’s important to get people using this because it will improve our site’s search capability and general organization. It also allows users to create their own maps that are subsets of Stickymap.

Right now, users need to mark off a series of check boxes, and fill out some text boxes. If you put a tag in a text box, it won’t be added to the marker unless you click the check box. I believe that’s been tripping up some of our users.

We’re in the final stages of preparing a release for a new interface. Let us know what would get you to use this feature.


The New Local Search Feature

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Until last weekend, we had a confusing 3-tabbed search area which was overlayed on top of the map.  Now we have a new search feature which I believe is easy to use and more streamlined, and I’d like to talk about it today.  Basically, it’s a local search that asks 2 questions:

1) What are you looking for?

2) Where are you looking?

If you answer both questions, and our site recognizes your location, the map will travel to that location and proceed to search for whatever you typed in the first box.  All relevant search results will be displayed, and you can click them either on the map or on the sidebar.  Yay!

Notice there’s also an AND/OR designation.  That means that we don’t require you to answer both questions.   If you only want to tell us what you are looking for, we’ll just search for it in wherever you happen to be on the map.  So, instead of answering question 2, you can just move to map to the place you want to search.  Likewise, if you omit question 1, we’ll simply bring the map to the location that you specified so that you can look around on your own.

This gives our users a far more useful tool for searching our site.  I encourage you to try out all the features it has to offer.  Let us know if you have any ideas on how we can make it easier to use or more intuitive.


New Interface Upgrade Complete

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Dan and I are pleased to announce that the new interface is live.  There hasn’t been this major an upgrade to our interface since January.  Please check it out and tell us what you think!

Interface Upgrade Release Today

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

We’re on a sprint schedule here at Neighborhood Resources, and we can now announce that by tonight, we will have released a new interface upgrade for Stickymap. It will contain a few new features which are more than cosmetic. I think it will go over well, but as always there will be room for improvement. Please check in later when this process is complete to give us your review.


The New Interface

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

The new Stickymap interface is a natural step in the improvement of the site.  We have frozen our feature additions, and are now in the debugging phase of this exciting project.  That means the window of our release is shrinking and getting nearer.  We expect it to be ready between this Friday, August 3rd and next Friday, August 10th.

So far, feedback from our testers has been positive.  Creating markers and searching has become a lot easier.  Most of the complaints have been that we didn’t go far enough in redoing the site.  It is my hope that what we have is going to go over very well with the public just as it has with our testers.

New Version Update

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

As of today, we are still hard at work on our interface updates. Some of our ideas are coming into a clearer focus. Creating a marker is going to be very easy – we have been able to make good use the “info window” from Google Maps. However, we don’t want to make creation too easy. Unlike Google mymaps, we’re going to ask our users to make sure they’re not posting a duplicate. The trick is to strike a balance between the integrity of our data and the flow of user experience.

More specific updates are to come soon. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get some screen shots up here.


Stickymap hires a graphic designer

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Neighborhood Resources LLC is very excited to announce the hiring of a graphic designer to help improve the design of the website. In the next few days, we’ll hopefully be able to replace some of the simple placeholder images with high quality material. So that you can take a look at his graphics portfolio, we’ll try to post a link to his website as well as feature some of his work within the blog. Right now, he’s creating a new Stickymap logo.

We’re looking to expand our graphics team and have just made a few positions available to summer interns. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to join Stickymap’s graphics team.