What is An Interactive Locator Map?
A locator map shows all the places where your business operates. It can show where you have stores, offices, customers, warehouses – anything that conveys the scope of your operation. When you make a locator map interactive, visitors to your web site can simply click hotspots on the map to read about a particular location, see a photo, or watch a video. An interactive locator map is fun to use and makes your web site look more professional.
Suppose you own a national chain of coffee shops. Your map could show all your franchise locations and when someone clicks a store, the map might display the store’s phone number, daily specials, and a photo of the manager. Customers could use the map to see where they can get your coffee. Someone looking to start a franchise could study the map to learn where they might open a store of their own.
Keep your interactive map simple
The most effective locator maps are simple and easy to understand. Your map could be the world, a region or even the inside of a building like a shopping mall. The map image you choose should show only the features needed to make locations easily recognizable. Often people just want to know whether you have an office in their state or a store near their city. With a simple map they can tell with just a glance and then click on that location to get more information.
Unless you have hundreds of locations, avoid using a Google Map for two reasons. First, they contain too much detail that detracts from your business and second, they make your site look commonplace. Instead, choose an attractive map image that enhances your web site and use interesting hotspot graphics that make your locations really stand out. If you need to provide driving directions, you can add a link to a Google Map in the text that displays when someone clicks a location.
Put your map to work
Your interactive map can do a lot more than just show locations. You can make your map clickable so visitors can link to other maps or web pages. For example, you could use a top level locator map like a country map that shows all the states where your business has offices, and let visitors click to go to individual state maps showing where each office is located. Try this larger version of the coffee shop interactive locator map to see how this works.
If you don't have a lot of room on your web page or your business locations are spread out on your map you can make your map zoomable. This lets you display a larger map in a smaller area and people can zoom and pan to bring locations into view.
Manage your locations and content
There are different ways to add and update your content. One way is to add your hotspot content manually by uploading images and typing text. For maps with a lot of locations look for the ability to import your data from a spreadsheet – this can save a lot of time. If the information you display on your map changes frequently you can also look for features that let you retrieve and display your data from your database in real time.