Ever felt like the Contact Us page map on your website is a little plain and maybe even has a copied map from one of the many static mapping websites that are out there? With the race between Google and Microsoft to establish market domination in global mapping, there are some great new mapping innovations that are available.
The Google Maps website is available right here and starts of with a view of the United States. Notice though, that in the bottom right hand corner is a small square which allows a quick change of location on a global scale.
The Microsoft equivalent is known as Microsoft Virtual Earth and is available right here. When the website loaded it presents a full sized screen of Australia. Not sure how they know that that's where we are but it's nice to be presented with the home country.
It is a good experiment to find your house and work location and any other favourite tourist destinations around the world using both these tools. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and depending on if you need directions from one place to another, are looking for shops and services in a certain area or just want the WOW factor, each of them have different strengths.
What we have found however is that implementing the Google API brings a whole new experience to the Contact Us page on your website. Rather than the expensive and static images you can buy from a directory company, Google is allowing the implementation of the Google Maps right into your own website. This means that people can start with a pointer showing where you are located, and then scroll out to the wider area map and position the map just specifically for them. This is magic, and provides major enhancements for the customer trying to find directions to your premises.
Check out our Contact Us page with the Google Maps implementation right here...
The other major development in mapping is for real estate, architects or any other property development type company who is looking to highlight specific locations. We were fortunate enough to recently have the opportunity to complete a significant upgrade to the David's Real Estate Website. Each one of their properties either for sale or lease, now has the ability to see the Google Map of that location, and again it can be dynamically moved to suit each and every user. Here is an example of a property page - click on the View Map option to see it at work.
The surge towards dynamic mapping was started by Google Earth which we wrote about earlier in the year
. With two titans striving for online mapping excellence, we can be sure that more and more improvements will be delivered in the online mapping space.
Update 1st Feb: Google Maps is now available in Australia, which loads the globe centered on Australia. Please see http://maps.google.com.au
Also, global IP tracking and positioning is available through various providers. One we've been alerted too is http://www.maxmind.com