Guided Tours and coach marks are coming to ArcGIS Online!

The work that you do every day is important and we are looking for ways to help you be more productive and efficient (because we know your time is valuable).

During your journey of using ArcGIS Online, we decided to spend some of our time to look at the starting point for that journey. What could we do to help you, our users and customers, to ease into using the product in a delightful and simplified process. Or even, for someone who has never used the product before, how could we help them to “quickly get up and running”?

We decided to craft in-app Guided Tours with coach marks. To quickly define what we mean by coach marks (at least our interpretation at the present moment): small, visual boxes presented within the application containing informational or instructional content, which are unobtrusive and can be dismissed at any time. When we string together a series of coach marks, presented in a sequential manner, each can provide instructional information to complete a specific workflow in a guided tour format.

The basic idea here is: continue to provide strong documentation (such as ) as well as continue to provide videos (such as ). When comparing these to the three learning modalities (, the written documentation targets the visual learning style and the videos target the auditory learning style. Now we are introducing a baseline with the Guided Tours which targets the tactile (kinesthetic) learning style. What we mean by this is, rather than A) read a document, then go to the product and follow the written document; and B) watch a video and maybe hit play / pause regularly) , then go to the product and follow what was displayed in the video; now, C) please lead me through how to use a specific capability within the product itself.

In the previous paragraph we mentioned “we are introducing a baseline” and what we mean by this is, we see this as establishing a foundation for what else could potentially be achieved with coach marks and guided tours.

A group of us (from Product Management team, Software Development team, and User Experience Team) have worked together to craft three Guided Tours, primarily targeted for an ArcGIS Online 101 audience:

  1. Make a Map
    • Walks you through a series of short steps to quickly build a map and save it, then be able to share with others.
  2. Style Your Map
    • Guides you through how to change the symbol for a point location on your map (in GIS terminology, a “feature”), then save the map.
  3. Explore ready-to-use Layers
    • Introduces how to add authoritative information and data to your map, then explore the information.

With the addition of custom roles into the ArcGIS Platform (, the Guided Tours will take into consideration the permissions and privileges given to each user account by the Organization Administrator. In other words, some people may see more or less Guided Tour options, based on the privileges in which they have.

The tours appear in the About panel when signed in with an organizational account that has privileges to create items. For the best experience, be sure to follow each step of the tour. Another point to note, with this initial baseline for the Guided Tours, we didn’t want to introduce an experience that would be obtrusive, so the Guided Tour options appear in the About panel without interfering with your use of ArcGIS Online. Therefore each person can choose to take one of the Guided Tours if they feel a particular tour is helpful.

We hope to learn from this to further improve this baseline and see what other ideas come from these Guided Tours and coach marks. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please share them in the comments below.

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  1. ephraimross says:

    I could not be more excited to see us deploy this type of ‘in-app’ training. Our best approach to training is always to 1) make the tool as intuitive as possible, and 2) have the specific chunks of training they need be as near to the actual application as possible.

    Great work – very exciting!

  2. Mark says:

    This looks great! Are there plans to eventually allow the creation of custom Guided Tours?