I recently helped added some map functionality to a blog focused on Bellingham real estate to give users a better sense of the various neighborhood locations in their area. I used the Google XML maps plugin because it seemed to work best, and ever since then I've been playing with Google maps.
Mapping technology has come a long way in the last several years. You can now embed a rich Google map directly into your blog or site, draw boundaries on the map, add landmarkers, and so on -- all without almost any technical knowledge. Here's a map of the area I work in downtown Salt Lake City. Click on each of the squares to read a little blurb about that area.
I don't use maps much in my job as a technical writer, but maps are commonly used in just about everything else. Every time you have a meeting (for example, an STC meeting), you can embed a Google map on the website. If you have a garage sale, embed a map to your house. Planning a barbecue? Embed a map to the park or area you're having it. I biked a long trail this weekend that I'm eager to add to Google maps. I also have a friend who geomaps trails all the time.
Google maps are fun to play with. To create your own boundaries, go to http://maps.google.com, sign in, and click My Maps. Then click Create a New Map and draw the appropriate boundaries with the available tools.
To embed your custom Google map on your blog, install the Google XML maps plugin, configure the settings, and then just add a link to your custom map (on your custom map, click the link button in the upper-right to get the link to the map). The plugin automatically converts the link into an embedded map.
The ease of inline maps with WordPress is quite cool. I can imagine a ton of situations where the map can make it easy for people to understand directions and locations -- much more than the antiquated way of providing an address and letting people unfold a giant paper map.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in , API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.