When is Complexity Okay?

We often hear about simplifying and reducing in relation to map design. However, if you have enough time and patience to manipulate a lot of data layers and a lot of labels, you can make a complex map look good. So when do you know if your complex map is effective?

  • When all the labels are legible
  • When labels do not overlap
  • When whitespace – or empty space – is still there
  • When background and foreground are distinguishable
  • When the colors are cohesive
  • When there’s still a noticeable balance, either continuous pattern or strong focal point (see Map Balancing Tricks)

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