Thursday, 12 January 2012

2012 Olympic Maps

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has been busy putting together a range of maps to support the 2012 London Olympics. As Ollie O'Brien notes in his Mapping London blog, a new map of the Olympic Park was recently released to add to the collection.


It's a pleasant looking map which uses visual hierarchy to great effect. The background contextual information is predominantly light grey and reflects only the essential geographical detail required to locate yourself or navigate around the Olympic Park. Light grey has also been used to show back of house areas which recedes to the background yet remains an important context for visitors. Colour has been used sparingly but effectively to delineate spectator areas, athlete areas and event arenas. Text is clear and crisp and the switch between light grey, dark grey and white depending on importance and background adds to the structure of the map. Finally, the symbols used to identify the location of entrances, events and transport is clear and placed above the other map detail. This map represents a well structured, clear, unambiguous effort and complements the other static maps thus far. Some may have difficulty with the fact that North is not up (it's left) but given the shape of the Olympic Park it makes perfect sense to represent it in this orientation. You can see the full range of static Olympic venue maps here.

The one thing the designers of the static maps illustrate is a clear understanding of the craft of map design. I'd hope that encourages those that made the online web maps on the 2012 Olympic web site to sit up and take notice because thus far, their efforts are truly awful as the following screen grab illustrates.

2 comments:

  1. It seems I was far too generous with my positive comments...

    I got this set of points sent privately but I thought it worth posting them to illustrate how cartographers view maps (with the permission of the author). Some interesting points raised. I guess it's a question of scale. Generally speaking, the map works well but if we were being picky...there's improvements that could be made. See what you think:

    1. Olympic symbols are placed way too close to each other. Has the effect of one symbol blending into the next.
    2. Characters portrayed in each symbol are too complex (I know they didn’t design these but I’d thought I’d throw that in anyway!) The symbols are really weak.
    3. Amateur typography. Too much tracking and leading on some names. Best-size-fits-all approach. I can count six different colours of type; light grey, bold, white, green, medium grey, black. Keep it simple guys!
    4. Map orientated in a westerly direction! Why? Could have shown it north up the page in a landscape format.
    5. White type reversed out on dark colours is always difficult to read. These PDF’s will be available to the public and people will be printing them out at home on their little ink jets! Ink Jets hate reversed type. Bleed, bleed.
    6. The use of magenta for spectator areas and entrance areas leads the user to link these areas to the symbols.
    7. Should have used pictorial symbols to represent the stadiums. This would have helped identify each site more easily.
    8. Too many blocks of colour that are around the same size with the same value and saturation. They should have used another visual variable (like texture) to further distinguish between them all.
    9. The road network is neither figure or ground. They could have used this to provide some real structure to the map. Something that the users could fix their eye on, orientate themselves.
    10. Missing a location map showing where in London the site is?
    11. I’m assuming most people would be walking between the venues on the site? How about a scale bar that represents walk time? Or lengthen the scale bar? I would go crazy using such a short scale bar on a map like this. It is very difficult to determine how far it is from the Olympic stadium to the Eton Manor.

    I could go on but I’ll stop there.

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