|Among other topics related to the visual aspect of cartographic products, current research addresses the problem of user friendliness. The most significant research concerns those products that evolve most rapidly, a typical example being interactive dynamic maps. This group of cartographic works includes products that are relatively challenging for users with respect to their temporally fluid content and the possibility of interactive manipulation.
The article begins with a basic discussion of user-friendliness in cartographic products; in this context it addresses the historical development of the notion of cartography as a science, as well as the evolution of the ways in which it has been defined and of its subjects of interest. It demonstrates that, aside from notions of cartography as a technical discipline, it is also of interest from a linguistic point of view for its role as a means of communication between cartographer and map user. Still greater emphasis is placed on the design aspects of cartographic production.
Next the article describes a study on the user-friendliness of temporal legends, which are very common in animated maps. The goal of this study, which was conducted during the summer of 2010, was not only to evaluate the given temporal legends, but also to investigate the extent to which users were able to work with temporal variables (with time) in a cartographic product. Among the tools for collecting data was a form of online test. This test posed questions to respondents and automatically measured the amount of time it took them to find their answers. This method was based on the assumption that, given two cartographic works containing similar content, the work which enables the user to find information more quickly is the more user-friendly of the two. The results of the test were then analyzed on the basis of an objective standard for comparing qualities in a cartography work. The authors conclude by suggesting future directions for research on the subject.