10 different things you can do with a Story Map

8th April 2016

Present a story in it’s geographical context

This is the most obvious use for a Story Map and there are lots of examples, for both historical and current subjects. The Esri Story Maps team and our own UK map team recently created Story Maps to present the geographical dimension of topical stories: the Zika virus health emergency and the Syrian refugee crisis (both listed here). A recent Esri blog looked at some of the other ways that Story Maps are being put to use and I’ve tried to move some of the examples closer to home.

Annual Reports

In a post at the end of last year I mentioned that NHS Scotland’s Public Health Observatory have replaced their paper reports with a Story Map. The result is a more flexible information tool for the end users but it also makes creating subsequent reports much quicker. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society have taken this approach and included a couple of interesting uses of the options: the intro page includes audio and page 12, Landscape Management, uses the swipe function with images.

Introducing your staff or yourself

Organisations often have information on who’s who in a team or company. The Trust for Public Land’s national GIS team gave their’s a twist by using a Story Map to introduce their US wide team.

Promoting and marketing events

My French c’est pas triste (I think) but as a cycling fan I couldn’t resist this example of a promotional page – for the legendary Paris-Roubaix race – being enhanced with a Story Map.

Project or business portfolios

A Story Map can be a great way to present information about your organisations projects or portfolio. There are some good examples from the USA of engineering companies showing their projects. Closer to home, the Canal and River Trust to show potential restoration projects and proposed new canal links across England and Wales; alongside historic waterways.

Teaching or instruction

A Story Map can be used as an educational tool to enhance the understanding of a subject such as plate tectonics. But it can also be used as a way to document and share a methodology or workflow. Students from UWE, Bristol, used a Story Map to describe the approach taken for a windfarm site suitability project and the results.

Public relations

Story Maps are a great way to present information to the public. It could be a walk-through of information about a proposed project or a presentation about existing services your organisation delivers. A number of charities are using Story Maps to inform the public and engage them with the issues – Bird Life International put one together to spotlight the Mediterranean.


Story map templates can be used as a way to structure operational map views, alongside or as an alternative to Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS. The Esri blog included a great example from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), who use a Story Map Series (tabbed layout) at their Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The maps show current weather conditions along with other dynamic data and you can see it in use in the original post.

An atlas

Traditionally a book of static maps, you can now create a more interactive version using a Story Map. The Museum of London Archaeology used a Story Map to present maps of archaeological finds across four time periods.

Briefings and presentations

If you attended our Annual Conference last year, you may have seen some of my colleagues using Story Maps to deliver their tech sessions. There’s a good article here on this approach and a new autoplay mode has been added for running your Story Map unattended in an exhibition.

The one we haven’t thought of

The ability to combine different media, including maps, in a structured, multi-part web presentation makes Story Maps very flexible. Maybe they will help you deliver something not covered by this list. If this has inspired you but you’ve never created a Story Map try starting here.