What Google says about Google maps iconography and Travelbug’s accommodation map.

I recently attended a Google conference over in the Wairarapa near Featherston at an awesome hide away location. It was a homestead of which there are many in the Wairarapa, and it felt like we had been transported back in time about 150 years. It was awesome. LongWood Country Estate - Wairarapa

One of the attendees at the Google conference was Patrick Hoffman – one of 5 designers for Google maps. I had a really good chat with him on the bus over the Rimutaka Hills and he described with great passion about the iconography around Google maps  – something that I have always taken for granted and never really thought about. I was sceptical and somewhat cynical. How could someone make a career from icons on maps?

Well if you stop and think about it, it’s actually extremely important.

Google maps is prevalent everywhere – from the web to mobile, it’s consistently one of the best apps around. It continues to please and continues to serve our needs. It’s just useful.

So with the large majority of us dependent on it, with phenomenally high usage, it’s no wonder that icons are of vital importance. Get it wrong and you confuse millions of people. Get it right, and this Google product will remain second to none.

So when he raised this whole thing about icons, I asked as a pure layman, ‘you mean like churches and things?’

Apparently I hit the nail on the head in terms of the complexities involved with the job. It turned out that the church icon was arguably the most difficult icon to design. How do you design a singular church icon that covers all religions and faiths? After only a week of user testing, and design iteration, Patrick settled on a symbol that was universal in its recognition by taking the key architectural elements from the front of a place of worship – the big front entrance, the steeple, the minarets and the high sloping peaks.

So it’s no wonder with the attention to detail and care that Google take with their maps product that websites like ours want to utilise it. This combined with the ever growing popularity, straight out dependency and ubiquity of Google maps nowadays; we decided it would be useful to create a page that was purely dedicated to Google maps and accommodation.

We even created our own icon.

The icon is a price tag pointing at the exact location of the accommodation property.  The magic begins as you zoom in. The more you zoom in the more accommodation becomes available. In fact there are over 2,500 accommodation options available at the time of writing this blog.

When you hover over the price tags it shows a pop up with the description, prices for coming days and a photo of the property.

New Zealand accommodation map

We at Travelbug love the functionality that Google maps allow. In fact we’ve been using it for quite a while. You can find Google maps on all our accommodation listings if you want to know where you’ll be staying.

We hope you enjoy our use of Google maps and the new page we created. It’s all designed to make your decision making as easy as possible.


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