This is part of a series of ‘tips and tricks’ blog posts for GIS professionals. Topics to be covered include ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Desktop, ArcMap, as well as static maps.

Creating maps in ArcGIS Online is a great way to tell a story or illustrate an idea and share the map instantly. The web map can be shared publicly to an entire organization, to a smaller group, or be viewed by only you. Below are some ideas and guidelines for creating web maps in ArcGIS Online.

  • Best Practices. Contact your organization’s GIS department to inquire about agency templates, official logos, shared data, and other best practices.
  • Consider the purpose of your map. In most cases, a statewide map does not need to include detailed road information; consider only including highways and/or US Routes on your map. Consider which layers (or layer subsets) may distract from the purpose of the map.
  • Choose an appropriate basemap. ArcGIS Online has several basemap options. The Streets and Topographic basemaps have detailed information. If this is not necessary for your map, using the Light Gray Canvas or Dark Gray Canvas basemaps will make your data really stand out.
  • Set an appropriate opening extent for when users open the web map.
  • Title and tags. Use meaningful title and tags to capture the attention of users. Include a description, source information and dates in the Item Details of the web map that will help your audience understand the content of the map.
  • Adding tags. Adding tags will help users readily find your map in ArcGIS Online search results.
  • Pops-Ups. Use pop-ups to show attribute information such as attachments, images, charts, and URLs for each feature. Define the visible/hidden fields in each layer for optimum visualization.
  • Labels. Set labels for important features.
  • Employ color contrast. When using color ramps, ensure that the various shades are easily discernable. For example, a color ramp based on a single hue should typically not contain more than five variations of that hue. For color scheme ideas, and assistance identifying color schemes that are colorblind safe, consider consulting ColorBrewer.
  • Clean up your web map! Remove unused layers, ensure that used layer names are relevant, and order layers as needed.