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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

We need GIS apps which are super simple to use

August 12th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

We seem to hear so often now: “We need GIS apps which are super simple to use” . Why?

A history of GIS App Complexity

I’m afraid its true. We’ve been building GIS apps which are too complex. Too many GIS apps need users to be trained before use.

GIS has a history of complex and confusing apps

In 2005 Google Maps introduced us to simplicity. True, their target audience were consumers, not the enterprise, but still the simplicity was a thing of beauty. GIS has been pushing out applications filled with (too many) tools. Tools which are complex to use. Applications which are not intuitive. Applications which need training.

New Non-GIS Users

We are in the midst of geospatial revolution, driven by cloud and mobile technology. The geo world is being turned on its head. Traditional GIS users are being joined by a new far wider user base: non-GIS users. That’s not just consumers, but private organizations recognizing their business intelligence (BI) software is only giving them part of the story. By your staff who are looking to location based technology to improve how they work, and improve their organizational insight to make better decisions.

New focus on GIS Simplicity

GIS is complex. Let’s not pretend. But its our job as GIS professionals to make the user experience simple. Let’s not force our users to jump through hoops to get their work done… confusing workflows, menu after menu, too many tools. I like the book “Don’t Make me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability”. It should be mandatory reading for all GIS developers and development companies.

Simple GIS apps

As a company we take simplicity seriously. We realise we are now serving a wider audience, who are looking to location technology to end their use of pen and paper in the field, to view and analyse their data in new ways. As an example, we have been developing offline enabled mobile applications for a number of years. Our goal was to make going offline a 2 button click process. First download the basemap data you need (satellite, roads etc) then go offline.

How about integrating ArcGIS with Google?

Our Universal Map Viewer for ArcGIS is designed for GIS and non-GIS folk alike. We have put much focus on simplicity. We rely on users like you to give us feedback on usability. Let us know if you’d like to demo the app, we would love your feedback. Call us on 801-733-0723.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, location data, Mobile ArcGIS, Mobile GIS, Web and mobile GIS

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