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Monday, September 28, 2015

Strategies for Linking to a Story Map or ArcGIS Online Map

Sharing that Great Map

Lots of time and energy have gone into producing your latest online map. Now it's done and it's time to tell the world about it in a press release, article or via social media. What URL do you use and how do you include it in the text? Here are  few strategies that work well.

City of Vista Interactive Planning Projects Map - A Story Map

Most of the stops on the City of Vista Story Map Tour of projects.
Different colored pin distinguish those pending review, approved,
under construction and completed.

The San Diego Tribune last week highlighted a new interactive map from Vista, CA showing proposed projects in that city. Here's why the map was created.
The new web page, posted last week, follows a year of uproar after uproar from different neighborhoods throughout Vista, which after years of stagnation in new-home construction is in the midst of a building boom primarily focused on apartments and other multifamily projects. ...
Homeowners who live near many of the proposed projects have flooded City Hall with concerns over traffic, parking, property values and more — and many have complained that they didn’t know about a project until it was near the end of the approval process.

The article then explained how to get to the map:
To find the interactive map, go to the city’s home page, click on “construction projects” and scroll down for a link.
The links themselves are rather easy to remember:
Those who write for online and print properties know why these details, but not the actual "HTTP://..." code, are included. Ideally, someone reading the print edition could find the city homepage and navigate to the story map.

The city's online news announcement about the new map offers a direct link to the "tool" and these instructions for navigating to it:
The user-friendly design provides the location of the project, the applicant, date submitted, project plans, status, and the City Planner contact information. The online map is located on the City’s website under the Community Development Department webpage and under Construction Projects on the homepage (CityofVista.com).
The city has one up on the newspaper since it includes the city website's URL. The online announcement offers a screen shot of the map, but does not embed the map. Embedding is possible, but perhaps didn't make sense here.

I think these options are quite good. My only suggestion would be to consider offering a link from the map itself to a map gallery (probably not meant to be public) or table of contents (this is the GIS city's page) for other interactive maps. Currently, this is just a link to the city website via a logo in the top right corner.

Los Angeles Projects Map - A Custom Map Built on ArcGIS Online Services

Add The City of LA Projects Map is not a story map. It
uses the Metro lines for its initial base map.

Esri published a press release about the City of Los Angeles Projects Map. It includes a link to the map in the first paragraph and its full URL (pretty: peoplest.lacity.org/projects) in the last paragraph. People St. is a project of LADOT and the City of Los Angeles, which facilitates neighborhood communities initiating, building and funding plazas, parklets, and bicycle corrals.

This map, best I can tell, is not a story map, but a custom implementation embedded in a webpage. On the "About," tab is a link titled More information that links to the details of  a map titled People St Projects Map-v3. Opening it in the viewer visualizes the 20+ services in use.

I like that the user friendly version of the map, on the People St. site, gets the attention. It offers a mini-tutorial so visitors can get right to working with the map. Only those who want to know will bother to click over to the "raw" ArcGIS viewer version. Embedding the map on the site ensures that exploring other People St. information is available once visitors are done with the map.

Heat and Social Inequity - Shortening URLs
Part of theModule 1, Lesson 1 map in the
ArcGIS.com viewer. The map is an
education resources for Earth Science Week.

@Esri tweeted this a few days ago:
Heat & Social Inequity in the U.S. #storymap @427climaterisk http://arcg.is/1Wn9jX5 #climate 427mt.com/heat-vulnerability/ …
The first URL uses an Esri custom URL shortener. The link itself uses a Twitter shortened URL, http://t.co/7jMCl4cBx0 that links to the map. The second link  (also via a Twitter shortened URL, http://t.co/n4UrnuIzIb) links to an article about the map on the 427mt domain, home of Four Twenty Seven Climate Solutions.

Esri also has the esriurl shortening prefix, if you've not seen it. Link shorteners can help make sharing URLs easier when space is at a premium online, such as on Twitter.

Using a shortener with a meaningful name after the prefix can also be useful if the URL will need to be typed. The URL http://esriurl.com/MOW21map, for example, is used to link to a map that's part of some educational materials for Earth Science Week. Why MOW? I'm guessing "Map of the World." And 21? It's Module 2 Lesson 1!


There are many strategies for linking to end user-friendly and "less" end user-friendly maps. The author of the material needs to consider the best landing location for the reader as well as how to portray the URL best for online articles, social media and perhaps, old-fashioned print.