For many websites – especially online businesses – having a map is a vital tool for engaging with users. It can be an overlooked aspect, but a great map design can be a huge asset. Thankfully, there are many tools out there that can help create great interactive maps for sites.
Why Use Interactive Maps?
There are a number of reasons why an interactive map can have a big advantage over any other type. For example, an interactive map allows for direct interaction with visitors. For businesses with a large geographical reach, any increase in interaction is incredibly important.
They can help bring the business closer to that user, and therefore make converting that visitor into a customer much more likely. Also, an interactive map can respond to the needs of that customer in a direct way.
Here are some great examples of map designs that are catered to the specific needs of a website, and anticipate the needs of the user.
This interactive map was designed to accompany the fantasy TV series The Magicians. It incorporates a classic fantasy map style of design with interactive elements. The user can explore the map and click on areas and objects to learn more about them.
2) International Women’s Media Foundation
Here is a great map that showcases areas in which IWMF journalists have worked. It uses location pins to show directly on a map where a story was covered. Hover over these pins to see information about the journalist and their work there.
3) The Food Capitals of Instagram
This map connects the favorite foods of Instagram users with the locations of where the food can be found. It collates information from food tagged in pictures across Instagram to produce a map, showing where the best of this food can be found.
4) Dangerous Roads
This project uses street view technology to create maps of the most dangerous roads. It only uses an illustrated map on one page, but the purpose behind the entire project is about topographical depictions of data.
5) Radio Garden
This addictive interactive map uses a rotating globe as its base. Users can hover over points on the globe to instantly listen to any radio station in the world.
6) IntraHealth International
This does a great job of showing the impact of this organization. It uses a color-coded system overlaid on a map that shows in which countries IntraHealth has created programs, as well as showing other countries in which they have worked. Users can select countries to see more information about IntraHealth’s activities there.
7) 50 Years of the Rolling Stones
For fans of the Rolling Stones, this interactive map is a treasure trove of information. It gives a detailed look at live shows performed by the band over 50 years of touring.
The home page of this website features a dramatic map of the world, reinforcing the tagline of the site. It uses an edited photo rather than an interactive map, but has a similar effect.
9) Carlsbad Caverns
This example features a 360-degree virtual tour, giving the user a fully immersive experience of the caves. Best experienced with a VR headset, this is a great use of technology to provide an in-depth look at some of the best caves in the world.
10) Fleet Feet
This is a great use of an interactive map for a chain of stores. This map has over 180 store locations overlaid. Visitors can learn more about each store by clicking on each corresponding pin.
11) The Ship Map
This map won awards for its innovative and practical design. It displays the movements of the global fleet of merchant ships during 2012. Created by Kiln and based on data collected by the UCL Energy Institute, this a truly groundbreaking map.
12) Oil Spills in the Beaufort Sea
This map shows several examples of environmental disasters overlaid on an interactive map. It was made to draw attention to the oil spills caused by sea transports. The map has many layers of complexity, allowing users to add layers and explore areas.
13) Rio 2016 Interactive Map
This map, created for the 2016 Rio Olympics, gives users an interactive tour of the Olympic site. It also incorporates some interactive games, as well as other elements.
14) The Invisible Heartbeat of New York City
This fascinating map displays the travel information of a single day in Manhattan. Two million people a day commute to New York for work, doubling the city’s population. Justin Fung used the 2010 census, as well as information from the MTA’s turnstile database in order to create this interactive map.
15) North Carolina Community Foundation
This map displays all of the counties served by the NCCF. Users can hover over and click on the corresponding tiles and see information about that county. It also has different filtering options which can be used to sort the information on the map based on the eight different regions.
16) In Flight
Created by The Guardian to celebrate 100 years of passenger flight, this incredible map collects live data as well as historical data and displays it all on a map. The result is a depiction of every flight currently in the air, as well as historical information.
17) Get the Look
This is a vector map that also functions as a navigation tool for the website. It depicts a world map with interior design information from various cultures displayed over the corresponding countries.
18) Inside Asia Tours
This interactive map of South East Asia incorporates information about various locations. It also utilizes a unique panoramic mode.
19) Public Holidays
This map was created from a former “Viz of the Week” from the Tableau Public Gallery by Alexander Waleczek. Information about public holidays from around the world is displayed over an interactive world map. The user just needs to hover over parts of the world to see which holidays are celebrated there and when.
20) Cornell University
In this unique interactive map by Cornell University, the impact of the University on the area is shown in a visual way. Over a map of New York State, different research initiatives are displayed in their corresponding areas, as well as how they have impacted that local area.
21) Turning Point
Since 9/11/2001, terrorism has been one of the biggest threats to the world. Created by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, this map depicts every terrorist incident carried out between 2012-2015.
This animated map is a part of an online game in which the player navigates a boat across an interactive, playable map. This is a good example of a map used in a very interactive way.
23) US Electricity Sources
This map makes great use of color in the way it depicts information in a visual way. It looks at the energy production and distribution of networks of the United States and illustrates it across an interactive map of the country.
24) Airbnb Map
This beautiful interactive globe displays the highlights of Airbnb’s activity around the world, as well as facts about the company and the corresponding parts of the world.
25) Duke Energy Outage Map
This map, generated by this energy company, displays service information for the five states that it serves. Customers input their state and are shown information about their energy service in a visual way across a useful map.
26) House at Khlebny
This beautiful website shows information about the historic building in Moscow, which includes a fabulous interactive map of the area it is in. With its unique aesthetic, it combines useful information with historical facts.
27) U.S. Workers at or Below Minimum Wage
This map uses information collected from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to display the number of minimum wage workers going back to 2002. It displays this data over a map of the states, and when the user hovers over a certain state they see the correlating data.
28) World City Populations – 1950 -2035
This interactive map uses points of interest and color circles to depict changes in the world’s population. A white map of the world is used as the background, and the data is overlaid accordingly.
29) A Tour of London
This fun example of a great interactive map is based on the map of London. Tourist spots and must-see areas are highlighted, and users can explore these simply by hovering their cursor over them.
30) Sailing Seas of Plastic
This meaningful map uses dark color tones to underscore the seriousness of the subject it covers. It uses dots and information points to bring attention to the levels of plastic pollution across the world.
Here is another fantastic tourist map of London. This map again uses points of interest to guide the user across the map and highlight zones and attractions that may appeal to the user.
32) Lufthansa Dreamscapes
This useful map shows every Lufthansa flight currently in the air. It uses live flight data, destination times, and routes to show a live map of every plane the company has in the air.
33) Languages in the world
This fascinating interactive map shows all 2,678 languages that are currently spoken on a map of the world. It uses a vast amount of information about the origin of the languages, how many people speak them, and much more to create a definitive visual language map of the world.
In this interactive map, users can see a live view of the weather across the world. It includes points of interest in a side panel and allows the user to see an in-depth weather report at any time.
35) Alfoart Photo Travel
This expertly designed map takes historical information and overlays it on a stylized map. It uses an antique-style color theme to give the whole map a historical feel.
36) Country-to-country net migration
This interesting map takes immigration data from between 2010 and 2015 and maps it across a globe. It uses many interactive points of interest to display how populations have moved across the world. Blue circles show people arriving, while red circles how people leaving an area.
Creating Your Own Interactive Maps
It can be daunting trying to find the right tools to help create your own interactive map – there is so much choice out there. To try and help narrow the decision making down, we’ve put together a list of the five best tools to start creating your own interactive map.
MapSVG can help you create interactive maps using SVG files. This can give you an extra level of easy customization. Incorporate any kind of interactive graphic you like on whatever map you’d like to use. Make use of colors, regions, markers, popovers, and much more.
2) Google’s My Maps
This helps users to manage multiple maps all from one place. You can quickly and easily create dynamic and integrated maps with many data points, and embed them directly into your website pages. This is especially great for small organizations managing large numbers of maps.
This is a great tool for importing information and documents form a wide range of external applications such as Excel and Google Docs, and using that data in maps. These maps are then fully customizable and can be altered in any way the user needs to create great interactive maps.
Mapbox is a great cloud-based platform that allows the easy creation of interactive maps online. Use hundreds of predesigned maps and then share your maps on whatever social platform you use.
Ending thoughts on interactive maps
As we have seen, interactive maps can be used in an unlimited number of creative ways. They can be used not just as a way to impart information, but also as a way to reinforce a brand, style, or look of a website.
Developers are making great use of new advances in GEO tagging technology, as well as other digital mapping technologies, and are inventing new ways of using maps online. With some imagination, an interactive map can be a huge asset to your web presence.
As ever, it is important to first consider what your website needs, and cater your map-making to that particular need in order to streamline your efforts. Once you have done this, we have no doubt that you will find the tool for you on our list!
If you liked this article about interactive maps, you should also check out this article with map illustration examples.
We also wrote about a few related subjects like the map elements, map vector, what is a vector map, the choropleth map and how to make one, thematic map examples, statistical maps, websites with maps, and all the types of maps out there.
A bit obvious by now, but we really like maps so we wrote even more about subjects like funny maps, metro maps, fantasy maps, indoor mapping tools, as well as other online mapping tools and even the US electoral map.
I take it you like maps as well so make sure to check out MapSVG, a great WordPress maps plugin you should check out.