Geolocation & Local time: potential usage in creative design


Geolocation is a feature that allows devices to capture and send the coordinates of the user’s location to the website/web app.

It is extremely useful if we consider that geographical coordinates, integrated with different aspects of marketing, lead into Geomarketing, one of the most influential new methods used for marketing campaigns design.

This feature is included in browsers such as Internet Explorer 9 and up, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. It is also supported, on a more efficient level, by mobile devices.

From a creative point of view, geolocation allows customization of user’s engaging experience, for instance changing the language of a web design based on the device’s geographical position. It also allows customization of animation elements and interactions in order to show more familiar concepts, related to the user’s country. At the moment this can be achieved by duplicating the design to suite the local markets, but by using a system like geolocation we can avoid it, and simply create one product that satisfies different needs. Good example is Instagram 3.0’s Photo Maps, that allows photo organization and browsing related to the user’s exact position. As mentioned above, IE prior to version 9 didn’t support this feature. The obstacle can be overcome, in a less efficient way, by retrieving the user’s IP address with a server side script. This solution, while not precise as geolocation, could provide the reference of the country where the user is accessing the service.

On the other hand, retrieving the user’s local time can lead to a similar kind of customization, speaking in the terms of creative design. For instance, an interactive landing page can display a morning’s background or a noon’s background, according to local time. This solution can be implemented easily, using a server side script in case of the server’s local time, or simply by using Flash or JavaScript to retrieve the user’s browser local time. The downside of the creative utility of  browser’s local time, is the fact that the time settings can be manipulated by the user, but it offers many possibilities for innovative design, yet to be explored.

Fabrizio Fabricatore

Flash Designer