Application Maps

by Luke Wroblewski March 30, 2010

In her Escaping Navigation Hell presentation at the Web App Masters Tour in San Diego, CA, Hagan Rivers outlined her use of application maps to get a 30,000 foot view of a Web application. Essentially, application maps are diagrams that illustrate the types of screens in an application and how they are related.

What I found most compelling about these diagrams is that they illuminate the core areas of focus within applications quite clearly. In fact, looking at various application maps you can really see key differences right away. Consider the application maps for:

application maps

In Hagan's own words:

"Why do I make these maps? When I look at an application I look for it’s hubs. The hubs are the work areas – the place where the user creates things and does things to them. In complex applications (one with hundreds of screens, for example) there may be dozens of hubs and their relationships may be complicated. I use the Application Map to help me visualize these applications more clearly and to act as a foundation for the design of the navigation system."

In you are interested in how these application maps are made check out the video by Hagan below or come to the Web App Masters Tour and get the inside scoop from Hagan herself. If you’re thinking about going you can use the promotion code LUKE when you sign up and save $100.