Tips for Creating LabMaps
Finding a computer on campus shouldn’t be a chore. LabMaps help students find available computers in real time.
Students have busy schedules and shouldn’t have to spend hours looking for a computer on campus. If your school has LabStats, you can quickly and easily create a LabMap for each of your computer labs. A LabMap is an image of your computer lab that shows students the availability of computers in real time.
How do LabMaps work?
LabMaps are powered by LabStats computer lab monitoring software. LabStats is a client that’s installed on computers, that tracks when, where and how long the computer is used. The usage data feeds into dynamic icons that you place on a static background, so students can find available computers on campus in real time.
You can display LabMaps on your school website, information kiosks or announcement screens throughout campus.
Creating a background
Background images can be simple or highly detailed. Your school may have layouts of labs or classrooms already created, or you may want to create your own. If you don’t have time or resources to design layouts, this could be a great project for design students or an intern.
Background image examples:
Background images should include tables or spaces for each station you track with LabStats. You can also include chairs, room orientation features and additional resources.
What to include:
- Tables or stations (can be as simple as a rectangle)
- Chairs (optional)
- Doors (to provide a sense of orientation)
- Whiteboards and/or projectors
- Accessibility stations
- Collaboration spaces
Using dynamic icons
Dynamic blue, green and gray icons indicate the live status of each computer. We recommend including an icon key in every LabMap so students can quickly find an available computer.
LabMaps help students find available computers, so it’s important to design them with simplicity and readability in mind. To create a LabMap, just upload a layout of your space, and drag and drop the icons in place. Here are a few tips for designing your LabMaps:
1. Limit icon rotations to improve readability.
If you have round tables or a complex layout, it might be tempting to set each icon to face its chair. However, rotated icons are more difficult to decipher. Maps are easier to read if icons are all facing the same direction.
2. Limit background colors to improve icon readability.
Too many background colors can be distracting. We recommend simple backgrounds or black, white and gray layouts so the colors of the icons stand out. Everyone loves a little whitespace, after all.
3. Include orientation markers like doors and other room elements so students can find open computers.
Help students find the computer they need by including doors in your layouts. You can also include other recognizable elements like printer tables, lab assistant stations, or collaboration spaces to give students a sense of where the computer is in the room. This doesn’t have to be complex or to scale.
Interested in how other schools have used LabMaps? Check out these awesome examples:
Iowa State University
The large icons and simple background make this LabMap easy to read, and doors help orient the room. View Live
Utah Valley University
The icons are all facing the same direction, so it’s easy to spot the available computers. The entrance and lab assistant desk are marked to orient the room. View Live
New York University
This is a great example of a complex layout, where the map can help students navigate to computers without being distracted by other elements. View Live
Check out how other schools have built LabMaps here.
Students only have 24 hours in a day, and wandering around campus or driving home to access a computer takes away from the time they could be using to study, finish homework, or prepare for an upcoming exam. Effectively using and communicating LabMaps to students can improve their on-campus experience and keep them on path to success.