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The University of Colorado Boulder launched its first online campus map around the year 2003. This online map has been a tool used by the CU community to find places and even explore the expansive CU-Boulder Campus. Since 2003, and even prior to that, when there was only a paper copy of the campus map, the CU community and visitors have either found their way to their destination using these tools, or they have found themselves struggling to find their way to around campus.
As an online map designer, it is important to ensure that the user will successfully be able to understand and interact with the map, to accomplish the goal of getting to their destination. Analyzing the online map from 2003, it seems that the online map's design met some basic requirements, but there were many instructions around the map which instructed users about how the controls for the map worked. A good design shouldn't need instructions. The screenshot taken from 2003 shows that this map differs from most typical maps. Instead of having north oriented upwards, the early designers chose to orient west upwards. To some of the local community this might make some sense, because using the flatirons in the header as a reference seems logical, but to visitors, and other first-time users who might not be familiar with Boulder or Colorado, and even some who are, this might confuse them.
Moving forward in time, in 2008 the online map was re-oriented so that north faced towards the top of the page, but the design was still limited to only allowing the user to search for a building, and the map was set to a static zoom level, still limiting the dynamic functionality of the user interface. Since 2008, not much else has changed; the colors were changed recently, and new buildings were added, but the interface and overall design has stays fairly constant.
Now in 2013, with the use of the new available map styling tools and open sources like OpenStreetMap, the online CU campus map project is moving forward toward the goal of updating and improving its design's usability and functionality. The new map has outstanding improvements which make it easier for anyone on campus to navigate to their desired destination. Features like building information, dining hall locations, detailed information about parking, footpaths, and bus routes, will facilitate getting from one place to another on any part of the vast campus.
As this online campus map moves towards the future, improvements will continue to be made. Details about some of those plans are outlined in the Future tab on this page.