Improved map markers

Mar122008

We recently rolled-out a change to our maps that improves the way we display
multiple news items.

Previously, every news item would get its own marker, indicating
the location of the news item. You could click on the marker and
a small window would pop-up, giving you the headline, link, date,
and a short description of that news item. The problem is that there
are often several news items with the exact same or nearly the same
location: when you click on a marker to get more information, you
can’t differentiate between them if there are more than one on
the same spot. In some cases, you could zoom in to tell apart news
items that were merely near to each other. But that wouldn’t help
in cases where they were at the exact same location.

Screenshot of map marker clusters

Our solution was to cluster nearby news items into a single, larger
marker. The size of the marker indicates the number of news items
it is clustering: the larger the marker, the greater the number
of news items. (We also put the exact number on the marker for
precision.) The position of the cluster marker on the map is the
average of the locations of the news items it contains. And the pop-up
window that shows you more information has buttons for paging through
the news items.

We will continue to revisit our maps for areas of improvement,
especially when it makes the information we’re presenting easier to
read and understand. We’d love to hear what you think about them.

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