Open Access

Do navigation maps need a legend? Empirical assessment of the intuitiveness of point symbols on mobile maps


Navigation applications and the mobile maps that are integral to them are now widely used all over the world. The most popular applications of this type, such as Google Maps, has more than a billion users a month. To save time, users of navigation applications generally use the maps without referring to their legends, which are not shown in the default settings. In such circumstances, only intuitive symbols are read correctly. Mobile maps often have an extensive system of point symbols (POIs – points of interests), and navigation applications sometimes differ significantly in the symbols they use. Point symbols have been the subject of theoretical considerations and empirical studies of users, but there is a lack of comparative research indicating more and less effective solutions for designing intuitive symbols on mobile maps. This article presents the results of empirical research on the intuitiveness of POI symbols used in selected navigation applications. The study was conducted in the form of a questionnaire with 127 respondents. The results confirmed the hypothesis that the analysed symbols used in navigation applications would differ in level of intuitiveness. In addition, features of design solutions that increase or decrease the intuitiveness of point symbols were identified.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Geosciences, Cartography and Photogrammetry, other, History, Topics in History, History of Science