Five Tips to Make Your Story Map POP!

September 19, 2018

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ESRI’s Story Maps are a great way to present your drone data and share it with others. Have a look at the following tips to maximize the impact of your drone data and story map!

1.      Try different templates.

Different stories or narratives may be better matched with different templates. For example, while a story map that guides the reader through different locations and places may be best presented using the map tour template, the story map cascade may be more suitable for a guided narrative that steps the reader through various photos, maps, and multimedia. Esri offers a very handy tool that can help you find the best template for your story, and even show you how to use each template.

2.      Keep it simple.

You do not want to overwhelm your reader. The key is to walk readers through your story map, and try not to include too much information or require them to interact heavily with tools or pop-ups. In most cases, you should count on your readers to just scroll through your story map, rather than thinking critically or analyzing the content.

3.      Take it personally.

There are three ways to make your story map a little warmer and fuzzier. First, try to incorporate multimedia that your readers can relate to, such as photos or videos of people, money, children, or the elderly. If you need multimedia, Unsplash offers royalty-free images that you can use in your story map. Second, do not just abruptly end your story map. Try to include a closing slide or a closing statement to wrap up your work. Third, remember to credit the sources you used in your map, and sign the map with your name or initials to give it a personal touch.

 4.      Dress for the occasion.

Just as you would dress differently for different occasions, the theme of your story map should match the subject matter or mood of your story map. If the subject matter is serious and somber, you may want to choose a dark theme, for example. In addition to the theme, you can also use different transition methods in your story map cascade, such as: (1) fade, which tends to be neat and tidy, (2) slow fade, which tends to be more dramatic, or (3) swipe vertical, which is best for before and after comparisons.

5.      Think outside the box.

Pay attention to the basemap you use in your story map! Don’t just stick with the default basemap. Some basemaps, like “Streets” or “Imagery,” may have too many colors that might distract your readers. Instead, try one of the custom vector tile basemaps. After all, you can’t go wrong with basemap themes like “Harry Potter,” “Children’s Map,” “Nova,” and others. 


Nova Theme


Children's Map Theme


Harry Potter Theme

I learned these tips at this year’s Esri International User Conference; they will help make your story maps and drone data stand out. As digital web maps and story maps increasingly supplement hardcopy maps, it is important to know that little tweaks in background colors, basemaps, or transitions can have a big impact on your story map. 

Work reported in this article are supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant ATE #1700552. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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