SingTel : Messing with maps

An interactive map leads to the question 'why?'

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The feature

SingTel, Singapore-based telecommunications group, provides no benefit to users by including an interactive route through its directory of global offices.

SingTel provides a universal footer link to the Global Offices directory on its corporate site. The directory page shows a full-width solid-grey world map above a three-column index of country/territory names organised by region: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Americas & Middle East. There are no names or location indicators on the map. Mousing over it highlights the five regions in which the company operates; clicking a region zooms in on it and reveals red location markers. On click/mouseover of a marker a pop-up box gives basic contact information and a live e-mail link; the name of the city or country is highlighted in blue and opens a localised information page within the Business section of the site with tabs for Overview (the default), Products and Services and Contact Us. The latter has a link to an online enquiry form as well as the same information given in the pop-up box on the map.

The countries/territories listed on the Global Offices page are linked directly to the corresponding tabbed information page.

The takeaway

SingTel does itself and its customer base a disservice by the way it deploys its Global Offices feature and should be questioning why it was commissioned at all. The lack of location indicators on the full world map misses the opportunity to give an at-a-glance impression of its worldwide footprint and removes a clue to its purpose as an interactive information finder. Anyone curious enough to mouseover and click is rewarded with contact information but has to recognise the highlighted city/country name as a live link to reach the local information page. Those who assume the map is decorative or dysfunctional – or go to it as an accessible alternative – and click on the regional index get directly to the tabbed directory page.

While it would be possible to make the functioning of the map clearer and its use more intuitive a bolder solution would be to do away with it. What purpose does it serve that provides any extra benefit to users? None. From the index, they can get to local information in one click and to contact details in two; the map offers a slower route to the information and a no-quicker one to the contact details (and which on the map do not include the online enquiry form).
First published 26 June, 2014
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