Reference Map

Reference Map

What Problem Does This Solve?

Map serves as an additional or auxiliary view and is mainly used for contextual purposes.

Why Use This Pattern?

In many cases it is important for the user’s understanding to see a geography or an asset in spatial relation to other assets or in reference to common landmarks or features like roads or highways. This is important to make rapid decision based on the geographical location, a small map can serve as the image that literately speaks more than thousand words.

When to Use This Pattern

Use when the map adds benefit to the understanding of information shown elsewhere or provides geographic context. Good examples are dashboards that contain various data visualizations like key performance indicators (KPI), lists, tables, charts, and descriptive text. A reference map is another visualization element that adds value to the data orchestration and a key element for decision making.

What’s the Solution?

Place a small map next to other user interface elements. The map’s purpose is to display additional information that is relevant to the user. The reference map can be embedded in a page, a widget, or even an info popup. Because this map is auxiliary to the content, interactions are limited and the level of control by a user is typically low. User typically do not need to change the appearance of a reference map and interactions are usually rare, so try to avoid adding tools and fancy interaction, let the content of the page drive the map extent if possible.

Special Considerations

Consider simple and effective cartographic representation with very few distractions on the map. Design the map so it supports the rest of the application in color and style.


Reference Map
Find your Representative provides a Reference Map to show party affiliation by state, clicking a state on the map is an alternative way of input, the cartography is adjusted to fit the color scheme of the app
Reference Map
Reference Map on mobile
Reference Map
Audubon uses a reference map to show the migration zones of a bird

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