Map making is a blend of data and art. Data is the information we want to convey and art is the way in which we convey it. The right combination of both creates the perfect map.
You might think that creating custom maps requires advanced cartography know-how or a complex geographic information system (GIS).
Once, that was true. However, with the rising popularity of online map makers, anyone can create their own custom maps with a just a few clicks.
The six simple online mapping platforms below, enable users to create maps quickly and easily - without technical training or mapping expertise. We will cover general specs, price, and our favorite features.
Each platform is unique in terms of features and price, so there’s definitely something for everyone. Click any of the names below to jump there directly.
My Maps by Google
|Best for||Simple maps|
|Mobile capable||Android only|
|Highlights||✔ Brand familiarity|
✔ Ease of use
Summary: Google Maps is most often used for directions, but actually has a lot more to offer. My Maps, a little known offshoot of Google Maps, enables people to create their own simple maps on a desktop computer or Android device.
With a simple, clean design, My Maps mirrors the Google brand. Anyone with a Google account can use this free map creator, and the brand fidelity makes using My Maps very straightforward - even to a first-time map maker.
Create custom maps by:
- Drawing points or shapes
- Searching for locations and saving directly to the map
- Building your map from a spreadsheet
Share maps easily and collaborate with others, just as you would in other Google suite products (such as Sheets, Slides, or Docs). Integrate your map with image search or location services and store everything - maps and data - on Google drive.
Though simple and familiar, My Maps does have limitations. My Maps is only meant to be used online and the maps are difficult to download as images.
That said, with a simple user experience, familiar interface, and potential for creative use cases - My Maps is a great choice for casual cartographers or a first time map maker.
|Best for||Data visualization|
✔ Robust help documentation
✔ Overall value
|Price||Basic: Free for up to five maps with limited features|
Summary: Visme enables users to create custom maps, infographics, and other data visualizations.
Tapping into the concept of visual learning, Visme helps users create conceptual maps that combine graphics and numerical data.
Visme focuses on simple, clean presentation-style graphics: offering the map maker a way to quickly present multiple data point in a visually appealing format. This simplicity is an upside for many, but does limit the user’s ability to fully customize their map.
Maps are a relatively new feature for this platform. That said, Visme does offer several resources to help users navigate the online map making function.
|Best for||Creating multimedia content|
|Highlights||✔ Quality map design|
✔ Crowdsource capabilities
✔ Easily embed on all online platforms
|Price||Basic: Free for up to five maps with limited features. Requires an account.|
Summary: Mapme is a custom map creator. It offers a fairly basic online service that allows individuals to create simple interactive maps.
One key feature is the ability to embed the maps on external sites. For example, a company can use Mapme to create a map showing all their office locations. Mapme will then provide a link that displays the map on the company’s own website.
Used across a wide variety of industries, Mapme works particularly well for real estate, government, and travel. For real-estate, you can quickly share property information with clients - enabling effective sales. For travel, create interactive guides and itineraries, or share post trip round-ups.
With a variety of pricing structures, Mapme allows users to choose different options and functionality depending on their needs.
|Best for||Large datasets|
|Highlights||✔ No account necessary|
✔ Quickly create interactive maps from large datasets
|Price||Basic: Free for up to five maps with limited features and ZeeMaps branding|
Summary: ZeeMaps is a no-frills, online service for creating custom maps. Though the overall designs are someone limited, ZeeMaps offers more technical features than most online map makers - setting them apart.
Let’s say you download a spreadsheet in xls format, listing all UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. ZeeMaps will upload this spreadsheet and create a map of all the sites within minutes.
Zeemaps also features a crowdsourcing function. For example, someone could create a map of Los Angeles and ask the ZeeMap community to help locate all the In and Out Burgers in the area. Cool, right?
These unique features makes ZeeMaps one of the more powerful options on this list.
|Best for||Software developers and programmers|
|Highlights||✔ API available|
✔ Help/FAQ tools
✔ High-resolution imagery
|Price||Basic: Free for up to five maps with limited features.|
Summary: Scribble Maps allows users to create a map, publish online, embed in a document, or print as a hard copy. High-resolution imagery is unique to this service and allows for high-quality prints and posters.
Scribble Maps also has an application programming interface (API), which allows software developers and computer programmers to use Scribble Maps’ tools on outside websites.
While Scribble Maps does offer more technical tools for software professionals, it’s definitely simple enough for novice map makers. There is also a good amount of help documentation that walks users through creating more technical custom maps.
This is a great service for anyone looking to wade in the shallow end of learning GIS.
OnePlace™ by Unearth
|Best for||Simple map making and data capture|
|Mobile capable||Yes, iOS and Android|
|Highlights||✔ Map annotation|
✔ Create data layers
✔ Offline mode
|Price||Free 14 day trial with full functionality|
Summary: Obviously, we're a little biased, but Unearth is a simple, yet powerful option for anyone looking to make maps in a professional setting.
Designed for simple map making, data management, and collaborative work between dispersed teams, Unearth was built with physical industries in mind.
The platfrom is cloud-based, allowing anyone to collect and share data quickly from anywhere. Plus, the simple user interface allows anyone to make a map in just minutes. Users can start with satellite imagery and then overlay shapes, drawings, and even measurements.
Unearth is mobile-friendly, available on both iOS and Android, which enables users to easily capture data in the field.
A simplified online mapping platform, Unearth is a great way to dip your toe into the wide world of GIS, without diving into the deep end.