Best Practices for Building and Sharing Community Web Maps and Apps

Today’s technology has made it easier than ever to effectively share global information with the world. This information can be shared in a variety of ways, including web browsers, mobile devices, and desktop viewers. The Community Maps Team and ArcGIS Online encourage the creation and sharing of content. While sharing content is important, how we share this content may be even more important. Content and information is seldom useful if it is not well crafted and presented clearly. Below are some tips on how one can add value to shared content, ensuring that web maps and apps are engaging and contain the appropriate supporting information.


Providing topical and current information is step one. Whether your web map or app is for general purpose, operational, or just for fun, it needs to convey content in a useful and attractive format. Examples might include, locations of operable shelter locations providing assistance and services after a devastating natural disaster or storm, the location of federal land areas that promote public recreation, or where to find the best restaurants and pubs in Belgium.


Know your audience. It is important to understand who will be interested in the content and how it will be used. Effectively formatting a web map or app is an important consideration to reach as many people as possible. Regardless of the format chosen, the data behind the map or app needs to be accessible to any individual or organization that may open your shared content.


Describe your content. Shared content needs to be put into perspective. When authoring a web map or app, the audience is a critical consideration. A well described web map or app will convey what the content is and it’s intended use. Web maps and apps should include the following information:

  • Title
  • Summary
  • Thumbnails
  • Profiles
  • Description
  • Properties

Titles should be concise and state exactly what the content represents. Summaries should be brief, but lend enough information to give the user an idea of how the web map or app will be used. Thumbnails are incorporated to provide a graphic image of the web map or app. These images will help your content stand out when reviewing those sometimes lengthy search results. Thumbnails should be inspiring and interesting and give the potential content user an idea of what the experience will be like. Choosing the right format is important; PNG, GIF, and JPEG formats are common and supported by most web browsers. To learn more about configuring your thumbnail images, visit Put Your Best Thumbnail Forward! Profiles are important to include. A well-developed profile will describe the author and/or organization that is providing the content. This information may include the types of services that an organization may offer and may even provide details such as an organization’s homepage and contact number. Descriptions and Properties will provide information about the content and it’s intended use(s) and can be as detailed as you like. Authors of web maps and apps should spend some time on this, ensuring that access and use constraints, appropriate accreditation, and tags to aide content searches, are accurate and complete.

Let’s break it down by having a look at the examples below…







Final Format: Public Information Center

Now what?…

We have established the type of information to include when sharing content through a web map or app, but how does one create content to share? The video and accompanying article (PDF) will show you how.

A Workflow for Creating and Sharing Maps (PDF)

Explore the Maps and Apps Gallery on the newly designed Community Maps resource center to view examples of shared map presentations and innovative approaches to leveraging your map contributions.

Knowing where things happen matters!

We look forward to exploring your shared Community Maps content. Remember – it is nice to share.

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