Make A Map

With all the new maps and infographics coming out every day – how could it really be that hard?

Unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all for making an interactive web map – it is a product of user needs, user skills, data complexity and data availability.

The goal is to produce a map that conveys a concept about a space at a point in time as cleanly and concisely as possible. Interactive maps will allow the user to span a geographic area with varying scale and can span a range of time – but the goal remains: communication of a concept through data storytelling.

The best place to start is to determine where you are on this continuum.

Web Map Pro
Pushing the limits of bringing cartography into interactive maps
  • Own your domains and host your sites
  • Use JavaScript/leafletJS and Mapbox/Tilemill
  • Use Carto as an online PostGIS Engine with CSS/HTML customization, connecting to AWS or other db service via API/WMS/other connection.
  • Overlay data using smooth and aesthetic operators
    • Raster sliders, cluster points, fly through storytelling
  • Plug-in access to databases via API Keys and SDKs
  • Locate and pull together large datasets and large quantities of data
  • Cleanly represent phenomena without inadvertently misleading the user to a false conclusion (read Tufte)
  • Work with GIS Data using GDAL/ogr2ogr, PostGIS
  • Operate a variety of GIS Software ArcGIS, QGIS, TNTMIPS
Web Map Maker
You have your own domains and can make simple visualizations
  • Own your domains and host your sites
  • Use CartogoogleFusionTables,, Clickable Maps
  • Use <iframe>  (inline frame) used to embed another document within the current HTML document
  • Download datasets, clean datasets, mash datasets together
  • Know how to pull data from OSM and from Open Data Portals
  • Build aesthetic maps that are semi-interactive and adequately represent phenomena without inadvertently misleading the user to a false conclusion
  • Operate at least one type of GIS Software ArcGIS, QGIS, TNTMIPS
Web Map Storyteller
You have a few blogs and you think interactive maps are really cool
  • Use, Tumblr, Squarespace, ESRI Story Map Templates
  • Use <iframe> and contract Web Map Makers to make custom maps
  • Research and fact check information, and identify key points that best communicate ideas and phenomena
  • Provide succinct and engaging verbiage that compliments an interactive web map and enhances its use
  • Skilled at providing the important related information required to keep the user from a potential false conclusion

Identify where your talents are best suited, and compare that to your desire to build your own custom web maps from scratch. It is a lot of learning and logic to build something totally customizeable, and that would pull storytellers away from good storytelling. Spend time utilizing the resources that will enhance your skillset, and be patient in your quest to learn to code.


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