How Many Features Does Your Virtual Campus Map Need?

A recent featured article in Wired discussed the idea of “Good Enough” products.  What this means is that we don’t care as much about product features as we do about product cost.  The article gives a few great examples starting with the Flip video camera, comparing it to the more expensive offerings by Sony and others.

The Ultimate Swiss Army KnifeWal-Mart has proven to us that people care about paying bottom dollar for products.  We all want more for less, but with things like electronics I think we can all admit that we don’t use half the features they contain.  So why do we need them all?  Being able to pay only for what we use isn’t a new idea. It’s just not always that simple or practical.  When people design products, having a low and competitive price is definitely important, but each customer wants different features.  So in order to make a product competitive and more interesting they add additional features.  Additional features allow you to charge more.  The other approach is to create additional types, which is what we see in things like gum and soft drink flavors.

Is a college or university all that different?  Many people simply want an education and to them it doesn’t  matter where they get it as long as they can afford it and learn enough to pass.

The “keep it simple” approach is what we strive for here at nuCloud.  There are many different types of interactive maps out there.  I believe that, ultimately,  people want a map that is easy to use and that allows them to see what is important and the spots of interest on a campus.  Therefore, we offer different feature sets, so you have the ability to customize a map that provides the value you think is most important for your visitors.  Remember that ifyou can’t figure out how to navigate your interactive map,  how can you expect your visitors to?

I’m a big fan of web usability and web accessibility.  I think one book that every person working with the web (web marketer, web developer, content creator and so on) should read is Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think.  The book definitely delivers on the ideas around making websites simple to understand and easy for visitors to navigate.  The same elements translate into the creation and design of a virtual campus tour.  So when you think about how many features you need or how to display them just remind yourself of the true purposes of the map.  Those purposes are:

  1. Introduce prospective students to your campus
  2. Showcase buildings and areas of your campus
  3. Tell the stories behind what makes your school special
  4. Provide a way for individuals to virtually tour your campus from practically anywhere

So don’t lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish in the first place, and make sure that your visitors can follow along.  It’s not always about how many features you can throw at people.  Sometimes it’s about making it “good enough.”

Photo: The ultimate Swiss Army Knife by redjar

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One comment

  • Gerardo Weadon November 18, 2010  

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