Creating your own online maps used to be a very technical process. It required skills and knowledge in areas such as website coding and in-depth graphic design. However, thanks to a vast array of online tools it’s no longer such a chore. In fact, creating online maps can be an easy and enjoyable process, thanks to these online mapping tools.
Maps can be an excellent resource for many online spaces. There are numerous reasons why a company or brand might want to use a map on their website, just ask anyone in the tourism, healthcare, and e-commerce industries! They’ll all tell you the same thing — online spaces can benefit hugely from access to real-time data and online visual aids such as maps.
While it’s true that the tools exist to make the process of creating an online map an easy one, it still takes a great amount of creativity, research, and optimization. Thankfully, many of the tools available also include a large number of features that can help with these aspects of online map creation.
However, the choice of which tool to use can be difficult to make when there are so many choices. To help with this decision, we put together a list of the best 21 online mapping tools available for you to use.
21 of the Best Online Mapping Tools
This feature-rich WordPress mapping plugin is designed to enable users to create dynamic and responsive maps for their WordPress sites. One of the best selling points of this plug-in is the ability it gives the user to convert SVG files directly into an interactive map. It also has the more usual features and a huge range of customization options such as interface graphics, Google Maps, choropleth maps, image maps, floorplans, and much more.
The big draw of MapSVG is its vast array of features that allow users to create interactive maps easily and quickly. Interactive maps are a common request for many online projects. If the website is based on WordPress already, then this is the plugin to choose.
It provides almost 200 geo-calibrated and uncalibrated vector maps for a huge range of countries and areas. This variety is hard to find in any other online mapping tool. It will also provide support for map directories, search options, filters, custom fields, choropleth maps, and much more.
Some of the best features on MapSVG include:
- The ability to import JPEG/PNG images and edit them
- Filtering options such as by distance or location
- Interactive map markers
- Choropleth maps
2) Google Maps API
With undoubtedly the best location data on the web, this mapping tool makes use of some of the most accurate data available. Google Maps API includes a huge range of APIs for various mapping purposes.
Google Maps already powers more location-based services on the internet than many realize. This is partly thanks to the sheer number of APIs available. For example:
- Google Static Maps API
- Google Maps embed API
- Google Maps Android API v2
- Google Maps SDK for iOS
This fantastic geo-visualization platform offers many helpful tools to create engaging web and mobile interactive maps. It gives the user full control and great customization options. It also has a number of advanced features such as integrated satellite imagery, directions, and geocoding.
Mapbox allows users to utilize Vector Maps which enables real-time data to be used directly in the online map. In addition to this, it also offers a great Smart Directions API, which allows for live directions to be integrated directly into your map. This means that your map can automatically generate directions for anyone who needs them. This is a great benefit for those setting up delivery services online.
Originally developed by MetaCarter as an open-source equivalent to Google Maps, OpenLayers has been available since June 2006.
Here is another great mapping software that has a huge amount of flexibility and customization. Zeemaps takes the data that the user inputs and creates a great map. It then turns over the customization to the user allowing them to change everything from icons, color, regions, multimedia, custom fields, and much more. The best part is that it allows all of this without the user needing any prior web design knowledge.
The design is based on a three-tiered access system. These are viewer, member, and admin. This makes it a great choice for the presentation of group data analysis projects.
Zeemaps also has some great unique features such as spreadsheets importing. The software takes the raw spreadsheet and renders the data as part of the base layer of the interactive map. This is a feature that is often a difficult and fiddly process in many other map creation tools. However, Zeemaps makes it an easy process that anyone can pick up.
Formerly known as CartoDB, this mapping software is one of the best out there for creating custom maps. The genius of CARTO is that it brings all these professional and complex tools into software that is easy to pick up for those without much web design experience. Carto even utilizes drag-and-drop tools.
Users can import data directly into the software in a huge array of formats such as CSV, KML, and Excel tables. It also uses data from much more common sources such as Google and OpenStreetMap. With this range of data, this tool allows the user to create great dynamic interactive online maps.
This brilliant map creation tool allows users to create informative maps in the style of animated videos. It utilizes the “My Maps” feature of Google Maps in a way that makes the map creation process easy for anyone. Once the map is created, it has options to easily insert markers, paths, and points of interest. The customization options in this tool make it a huge asset.
8) ArcGIS Online
This popular and reliable mapping software enables the development of dynamic and fully interactive online maps. As a cloud-based system, it makes the job of map creation a fluid and creative process.
9) My Maps
This offshoot of Google Maps is a great tool to help create easy and dynamic maps either on a computer or an Android device. This tool is free to use for anyone with a Google account and makes use of the brand’s vast resources and simple, clean design.
Its integration with Google allows for easy collaboration and map sharing. There are some trade-offs to direct Google integration, however. The maps that are created in My Maps are designed to only be used online and do not download as easily as image files.
10) QGIS 3
This brilliant and unique map design software is open source and has all the benefits that come with it. Now on their third version, QGIS 3 allows the user to dynamically and simply create maps in 3D.
This handy software allows the user to easily plot pushpins for PowerPoint visuals. Simply copy and paste your addresses, click “plot”, and you’re done! This fast and brilliantly designed software allows the user to create maps which will either be hugely detailed, or quick and specific.
Click2Map is fantastic map design software that delivers advanced online mapping tools with an easy-to-use interface. Add your own custom images, markers, icons, text, and videos. Create your own custom data fields as well and import your own address databases. This allows for auto-repositioning of markers in realtime based on a vast library of icons.
13) Snazzy Maps
This online map solution is not technically a map builder. However, it uses Google Maps API to make any map on your site look great and work perfectly. It includes several design templates, which is important for any web designer that wants to create a professional-looking map.
If you want to use Snazzy Maps but you also want to use a more advanced mapping tool, you can try MapSVG. MapSVG already has a Snazzy Maps integration that you can use.
14) GRASS GIS
Standing for Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, GRASS GIS was originally developed by the US Army Corps of engineers to help with land management and environmental planning. Since its beginning, it has evolved and developed into free GISsoftware.
It includes over 350 vector manipulation tools. This software is mainly an option for analysis and image processing of digital terrain.
This custom map creator offers all the basic tools you need to create your own interactive maps. One of its key features is its ability to embed the maps that you create onto external websites as well as your own. Mapme is particularly designed for industries such as real estate, travel, and government. This is because you can quickly share information and locations with potential clients and users, without any additional coding or designing.
16) D3.js library
17) Tableau Public
Out of all 21 options listed here, this is perhaps the most challenging piece of software to learn for a beginner. However, the rewards behind learning the software are great, as it boasts the most flexibility of any similar tool.
Once the map is created all that is required is for the correct address and geographical information to be plugged in, and users can quickly customize their maps to correlate with this relevant information. For example, create shaded zone maps, flow maps, or dot plots.
This mapping tool includes some fascinating features. One of these is its ability to process images and convert them into custom maps that can be embedded on any online platform. It offers a host of useful features such as geo-referencing, inbuilt support for multiple map layers, offline customization of maps, full platform integration, and much more.
This software is great for creating mobile-friendly custom maps. While it doesn’t have the most features out of any of the options on this list, it does offer the basics that are often enough for most users.
However, Leaflet has the potential to be expanded upon by the user with a vast array of plugins that are easy to add on top of the basic functionality. Leaflet is also one of the only options here that was designed entirely with mobile support at the forefront of its design philosophy.
This is a mapping tool that is easy to pick up for any user and has a simple source code that is widely available and opensource. Due to this, it offers potential through a huge array of features without the complexity of some of the other options on this list.
20) Scribble Maps
Scribble Maps is a great piece of software that will allow anyone to easily create interactive maps for their online presence. Users can embed maps in a document or print them off.
While Scribble Maps can be augmented with more tools for more technically proficient users, it is primarily designed as a basic map creation interface that can be used even by beginners in web design.
This fantastic map creation tool is a great option for those looking to make static maps, such as satellite, street, or hybrid maps. This software provides the user with map-drawing tools that enable them to mark and label all the information that will be necessary on a map. It is also set up to allow embedding on multiple sites on a variety of platforms.
Which Online Mapping Tool Will You Choose?
Location-based services are becoming more and more important in the modern marketplace. This is increasingly true for the digital domain of businesses. Services that were once entirely real-world based are now moving online.
This will only become truer as time goes on, especially in a post-pandemic world. Because of this, it will become increasingly important for online businesses and brands to create their own interactive maps.
These types of mapping tools are gradually being used by more businesses and organizations for multiple reasons. These reasons extend beyond doing business in the traditional sense and now incorporate such activities as locating business partners and identifying networks of similar retailers in specific geographical areas.
Not to mention those businesses who increasingly find new customer bases online thanks to the increasing reach that this type of platform offers. These are just more reasons why even the smallest of businesses should become familiar with the techniques behind online map creation.
As we’ve seen in this list of the best online mapping tools there is a huge range of choices for those looking to create their own dynamic interactive maps for their online platforms. While it may seem daunting to select which one to use, you should first consider exactly what you need from your online map.
Each of these options offers something slightly different as well as basic tools. When you consider exactly what you need, we have no doubt that you will find the map creation tool that’s best for you. We hope this comprehensive list will help make that decision easier!
If you liked this article about online mapping tools, you should also check out this article about free mapping software.
A bit obvious by now, but we really like maps so we wrote even more about subjects like the blank map of Italy, Africa, Australia, and a few others, about websites with maps using interactive maps, and SVG animation examples.