Some tips on building useful tours in Google Earth

treves.jpgMany of us create tours in Google Earth, but have you ever thought about the usability of those tours for your users? Richard Treves tackled that exact question, and came out with a handful of great tips. In particular, he studied whether users could find the locations that were shown in the tour on a map, and what parameters affected that.
Speed didn’t matter much. You can fly users into placemarks surprisingly fast without affecting their ability to find the location later.
Overview was important. If the tour pulled out to a high altitude to show the previous and next locations at once, the user was much more likely to be able to recall the locations of the placemarks.
Distance vs Direction was a problem. In most cases, users couldn’t accurately estimate the distance between placemarks. Providing some kind of scale would likely help with this.
Richard gets into more detail in his write-up, so it’s certainly worth checking out if you ever build tours in Google Earth.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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