Geo-spatial simplicity: Designing map interfaces for bushfire planning

Document Type

Journal Article


Common Ground Publishing


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communications and Arts




Haimes P., Medley S., Clarkson B. (2014). Geo-spatial simplicity: Designing map interfaces for bushfire planning. International Journal of Visual Design, 7(2), 37-45.


We are part of a team working in collaboration with Landgate, the department of land information in Western Australia, on a project that is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant. FireWatch is a webbased map application that was originally developed by Landgate to provide members of emergency services organisations and government departments with information on fire locations in Western Australia. While FireWatch was originally intended to be used by these technically inclined, subject-proficient users, we are tasked with creating a new version aimed at the wider community, with a particular focus on rural communities in northern Australia. Due to the fact that the interface will be used by a wide variety of users and potentially under stressful circumstances, we are attempting to traverse a delicate balance between functionality and ease of use. Some theory from human-computer interaction (HCI) has suggested that simplicity as a design goal is overrated. However, we believe that giving users a minimal, simple layout will maximise ease of use across several web-enabled devices and improve overall usability. As part of the design process, we are utilising user testing to ensure that we are providing optimal functionality for users.



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