How to create and use mapping software

As the world grows smaller, consumers expect personalisation and relevance from the business world. This often requires companies to master geo-targeting, which means not only understanding where your target audience is located – but what makes that area as unique as the customers themselves. In this blog post we share everything you need to know about mapping software.

What is mapping software?

Put simply, mapping software is any app that can analyse data and present the results in a geographic format that is easy to understand. That data could be taken from a number of different places such as a spreadsheet or a database. As humans we respond better to colours, shapes and other memorable visual cues compared to lines of black and white information, which is why data maps work so well for displaying complex results.

There are numerous types of mapping software, with the key differentiators often what the output looks like. Heat maps, for example, can convey the prevalence of data using simple colours— dark reds representing high density, dark blues low. By comparison, numerical data maps might be used to convey the number of stores a business has in a nation’s towns and cities, while route maps could display the most likely journeys people take to visit stores based on customer addresses.

Plotting the course

The first step in developing your own map-integrated software app is to consider what the use case is for your map. Your use case is the argument for why the map should exist in the first place. This will dictate what data the mapping software will analyse and how it will present the results. It’s also vital to consider the end user experience. How would they interact with the software? What would they want, and, perhaps more importantly, what would they definitely not want from the software?

Connecting your data

The next stage is to connect the various data elements needed to produce functioning bespoke mapping software. With the support of a dependable software development partner you can identify the best sources of your map data and create a brief for how that data should be processed and presented.

Examples of mapping software use

Some of the most popular uses of mapping software include the following:

  • Analysing sales numbers by postal code or region
  • Creating territories based on drive-time or population density
  • Determining market potential and growth opportunities in areas similar to each other
  • Overlapping different types of geographical data onto a single map
  • Visualising flows of goods or people
  • Creating interactive maps of business units for customers to find their nearest outlet
  • Live GPS tracking of field personnel on a map

Using the map

After your bespoke mapping software has been created, it’s time to put it to the test – literally. By running thorough tests in-house you will be able to trial the functionality, but ultimately the proof will always be in the end user experience. You should aim to have a test audience providing you with feedback on the solution once it’s live, allowing you to continuously improve the functionality and fix any errors.

Charting developments

Once your mapping software is up and running you can really start to take advantage of the information it provides. Over time, your mapping software will become richer with historic data – allowing you to map out trends and forecasts which can play a key part in developing a highly competitive business strategy.

Marketing with maps

One major benefit of mapping software is how it can facilitate improved marketing efforts, as it allows you to identify demographics by location. Armed with real-world data analysis, you can create marketing and advertising campaigns aimed squarely at that audience.
This will put you in a great position to deliver the accurate and personalised experience that users have come to expect.

Bespoke or off-the-shelf?

Maps can be used to present a vast range of information, but ultimately the rationale for using this type of data visualisation comes down to one thing: making the information easy to consume and engage with. While there are various off-the shelf options available for automatic map creation, they can’t compete with the power of having a bespoke app that has been created specifically for your business. With the help of a developer who has a keen understanding of your company objectives and target audience, you can create mapping software that is truly fit for purpose.

Here at DCSL, we work with clients to develop bespoke software, but we also have expertise in integrating ready-made software applications into your existing software ecosystem or website. If you need guidance or support, don’t hesitate to contact us!