The location finder pattern helps find a place, point of interest, or address and shows it on a map.
Location, location, location. What has been the number one rule in real estate for many years is also true for map apps. Showing a map is valuable but showing a map that is centered on the user’s area of interest is more valuable. That’s why the process of geolocation to identify the real-world geographic location of an object is the most important piece of any map app. It’s typically the first task a user is looking for before they start any sort of spatial analysis.
It is good practice for any map app to offer a location finder that zooms the map quickly and easily to an extent that matters to the user. Finding a place, point of interest, or address is a meaningful first step in the user’s journey. Once the location is identified, the map can zoom to a meaningful area and scale. The user can then go about a task, such as exploring or analyzing the area, inspecting points of interest, or updating map data.
Provide an input field that allows users to type their search. Often, the location finder has a leading magnifying glass adornment. As the user starts typing, the autocomplete functionality is a good way to show potential locator results and prevent typos. After the user selects the desired result, the results list collapses and the search term is replaced by the selected result label. A reset button is added toward the end of the finder input to clear the finder. Zoom the map so it is centered on the coordinates of the location. Choose an extent that pro-vides enough context to validate that the location is the desired result. Add a marker or outline the area with a polygon. Opening an info pop-up to invoke further actions is a common practice, as well.
The search results should list the most common location associated with an unqualified name first — for instance, if Rome or Paris is specified, Rome, Italy, or Paris, France, will be listed rather than a less commonly known place.
If the search returns exactly one result, the application may treat this finding as the desired result and automatically center on it. Another school of thought is that explicit user action is preferred, and the application should wait for the user to click the result before zooming in.
After a new search is invoked, any existing marker on the map will be removed and placed in the new location. Once the user starts zooming and panning the map, the marker should remain on the map until the selected result gets cleared by clicking the reset button in the location finder.
Arizona Public Service (APS) generates clean, reliable, and affordable energy for 2.7 million Arizonans. Its Outage Map app allows customers to find electrical outages that impact their neighborhood. In most cases, users are mainly interested in seeing outages around a particular address, and that’s why the app, which wants the location finder to be the first input element in the user’s natural reading order, placed it in the top left corner of the map. After performing an address search, the app adds a marker, zooms to a medium scale, and centers the map at that location. The reason the map zooms to a medium scale is so that users can visually identify nearby outages without having to zoom and pan. They can then click on an outage to open an info pop-up and receive more information. The outage affecting the customer’s address at West Indian School Road, for instance, was caused by a planned outage. The pop-up also informs affected residents that crews are already on-site to proactively upgrade equipment to help ensure reliable power is available, with an estimated restoration time of 11:20 a.m.