Benefiting from more advertising, Google’s Santa Tracker is the one that most people are familiar with this time of the year. Few people know, however, that NORAD, in partnership with Microsoft, provides a similar tracking system for Father Christmas.
Norad’s system started in 1955 and is more popular in the United States. Google’s tracker started in 2004, but has gained a lot of popularity over these last 10 years. These pages have the highest number of visits on Christmas Eve, with no less than 19.58 million unique visitors last year. After a 5-year contract with Google, NORAD signed last year a new one with Bing Maps, which provides them now with 2D maps.
From the design’s point of view, the two are very different. Google goes for a more modern flat design, with 2D graphics, that make it easier for the user to spot numerical data (distance from your location, number of gifts delivered and the time it will take to get to its next stop). NORAD likes to keep a more realistic view of the Santa and its raindeers, just as one would see it on a simplified radar.
As another level of interactivity, NORAD’s map can also be viewed as 2D, as an overview of Santa’s trip so far, with the option to find out more about some of the locations where he stopped. When you click on the so called cam-videos, a Bing results page shows up with more details on that city or area.
Google’s tracker displays this data a bit differently, in a more colourful way, showing a timeline with photos, arrival time, weather conditions and wiki info for each location.
This whole idea shows how our world is now so much more connected and visual, compared to the year when NORAD implemented such a idea and this was done only through phone calls. Eager children would phone on Christmas Eve and find out Santa’s current location from NORAD’s employees and later on, hundreds of volunteers.
I hope you’ll enjoy playing with these 2 Santa Trackers and decide which one you’ll like the most! I think both of them have great features and offer an interesting and fun way to wait for Santa’s awesome presents! I wish you all a very very merry Christmas and loads of fun around this festive holiday time!