Intelligent Maps Checklist: Web Maps

Have you ever made a checklist for yourself to ensure that your web map is not missing anything? No? Good news, we’ve done that for you. Feel free to use the checklist below, at least as a starting place.


  • Does this web map have a basemap in addition to your operational (subject-matter) layers?
  • Is your chosen basemap appropriate for your operational layers? Does it provide relevant context? Test out and choose an appropriate basemap given your subject.

Operational Layers:

  • Are there any unnecessary layers in your web map? Use operational layers that are appropriate and suitable for the map’s purpose.
  • Do your operational layers have strong symbology? Does the cartography match the purpose of the map? Is your data representation and content useful? Are the values used in the legend meaningful? Read more about How to Make Smart Color Choices in Your Maps and How to Combine Color and Size Effectively.
  • Are point and line information overlaid on top of polygons?
  • Are your polygon or raster layers overlaid on top of the entire basemap, or can you use the map sandwich pattern? Read more about Using the Light Gray Canvas Map Effectively.
  • Are your operational layers designed for use at multiple map scales? Do they turn off at inappropriate map scales?


Note: If your web map will feature a particular map service (e.g., operational layer), consider creating an item in using the map service first. Then author your pop-up in this map service item, and save it using the Layer Properties option. Then, author a new web map from this item. Why? By doing things this way, any changes you want to make to your pop-up can automatically flow to all “children” web maps created from this original map service item.

  • Do your pop-ups contain useful item captions and field aliases instead of database field names (no underscores, etc.)?  If people who look at your pop-ups say “what does that mean?” you are not finished yet: go to Configure Attributes and create aliases.
  • Did you use the Format Fields option to set the decimal places, comma separators, and aliases for your fields?
  • Do your pop-ups contain only useful items, and no fields such as ObjectID or coded values? Read more about Crafting Custom Attribute Displays in Pop-ups.
  • Is there any missing data in report fields that generate empty pop-up content? If so, do you provide a note/information to explain why there is missing data?

Item Detail Page:

  • Are your Titles, Summaries, and Descriptions complete in both the web map and operational layers?
  • Does the Credits section contain the source of the data behind your operational layers, and any acknowledgements you’d like to make?
  • Does the Access and Use Constraints section contain your organization’s approved text?
  • Have you made good-looking 200×133 pixel thumbnails by taking a screenshot at the scale you hope users will be using the map?
  • Do you have at least 5 Tags (relevant words or phrases to facilitate your map appearing in search results)?
  • In the Settings tab, have you adjusted the extent, improved your layer’s performance via generalized boundaries, or optimized your feature layers?


  • Have you tested your web map in any mobile applications or mobile templates available in the Resource Centers?

Editable Layers:

  • If your web map allows editing, are your editing layers focused, with strong symbols and editing rules?
  • Do the editable features have clear attribute items and useful entry forms?
  • Is the feature creation palette well-organized?


  • If your web map includes time-aware data (e.g., a time series of seismic events), does it use a good time window and time steps?


  • Have you developed your dissemination strategy for how you want to share your web map outside of the ArcGIS community (e.g., embedded in your own web page, a blog, shared via email)?
  • Who will publish the web map? Which user account will be used to publish it? Does that user account have full profile information and an email address so that the publisher of the map can be contacted?
  • Does your map need to stay within your organization, or are you able to share it publicly? If you need to keep it within your organization, do you need to set up any Viewer accounts for your organization’s management/leadership/decisionmakers? Read more about ArcGIS Online Roles.
  • Does it make sense to nominate your web map and/or your operational layers to the Living Atlas? Read more about A Checklist to Nominate Your Items to the Living Atlas.

Also available as a PDF. Other Intelligent Maps Checklists are available for Map Services and Thematic Image Services.

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