World Food Programme (WFP) created an interactive hunger map “to provide an insight into the distribution and nature of WFP food procurement activities” (wfp.org). You can access to the website from http://one.wfp.org/country_brief/hunger_map/map/hungermap_popup/map_popup.html. The interface is simple and easy to navigate. The information provided by this map is small, but since it has a very specific purpose unlike the UNDP’s Human Development Report map (check my previous blog post), it works. However, since the system does not work on a same map frame (by zooming in and out) but takes users to different pages when selecting particular region or country, users have less control on the data shown on the map. Thus, from the perspective of “interactive map”, it is not the best product.
The top page of the interactive map looks like below.
The map on the index page already gives information about countries’ economic status. This is because as the statement in the bottom of the page tells, the main purpose of the map is to show that WFP purchases foods from developing countries to tell that it is not only giving, but also nurturing the agriculture sector in developing countries by purchasing foods from them.
The index page also tells users what to do after they digest the first information under the title (“Click on a content for additional information”). So I clicked “Map Guide” on the menu bar to first familiarize myself with the map system.
A text box pops up over the map. Here it states the purpose of the map, the mission of food procurement, and how WFP’s food procurement programme helps developing countries. To provide more background information, it also uses tables and graphs as below.
It also provides an overall trend of where the foods came from by overlaying the information on the map.
Since Africa provides the largest amount of food, I decided to check the breakdown by country by clicking “Africa” on the menu bar on the left hand side. This action did not make the map to zoom into the region, but took me to a different page with a detailed map of Africa. The legend tells what the data communicates to the people. It shows the amount of foods WFP purchased from each country in US$. The data table on the left gives the breakdown of the commodities purchased from Africa.
Again, the map tells the user clearly on what to do next at a place where users most likely pay attention to (above the map). So I clicked on Kenya. This action again did not zoom into the map, but took me to a different page. The new page does not provide information in the map, but in the table, which was a little disappointing.
In sum, the interface was very easy to navigate through. It does not only keep the design simple, but also clearly indicates users what to do after each step. However, by doing so, it also took away users’ freedom to customize the data. Users get the data, but only in the format WFP wants to. If I can suggest any modification, I would suggest them to at least allow users to compare the trend in procurement over time like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hunger map does (users can choose the time period by clicking on the menu bar at the bottom of the page).
Still I like WFP’s map because it kept the purpose of the map very simple. From the one theme (where did the foods come from?), users can view the world from different aspects. In my project, I also would like to keep my issue to one or two so that users would not be lost.