Geografie 2019, 124, 133-161

How do user-centered design studies contribute to cartography?

Robert RothID

University of Wisconsin, Department of Geography, Madison, USA

Received November 2018
Accepted May 2019

I ask in this essay: How do user-centered design studies contribute to cartography? Scholars in related fields increasingly recognize the intellectual value of employing user-centered processes to improve a single product and identify new design considerations for future products. To this end, I propose an analytical framework for organizing the contributions of user-centered design studies that includes eight opportunities for advancing cartography: (1) domain gap analyses, (2) adapted or novel user-centered methods, (3) streamlined user-centered design processes, (4) transferable design insights, (5) comprehensive user-centered design case studies, (6) novel or unique maps and visualizations, (7) summative controlled experiments, and (8) new insights into pressing geographic problems. I apply this framework against my own collaborative work in a retrospective analysis of three UCD case studies: the GeoVISTA CrimeViz visual analytics tool, the NOAA Lake Level Viewer climate change visualization, and the UW Cart Lab Global Madison mobile map.


Portions of this research were funded by VACCINE Award #2009-ST-061-CI0001, NOAA Award #167152, and NSF CAREER Award #1555267.


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