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Tips and resources

Guidelines for creating an engaging map


  1. Use a descriptive name for your project as this forms part of the URL

    For example if you want to create a participatory map about gold panning in Scotland, if you call it “Gold panning in Scotland” the URL will look like this:

    https://www.mappit.net/layers/gold-panning-in-scotland/

    It is obvious what and where the map is about and it makes the page more search engine friendly so potential participants can find your map. There can only be one layer for each name – so if your first choice is taken you will need to choose an alternative.

  2. Use a suitable boundary for your project

    It ensures all submissions are geographically relevant and that the map will auto-center on the correct area.

  3. Choose a suitable default background map

    Features in the natural environment are usually best identified with an aerial photography backdrop. Man-made features are easier to identify on the urban background map. Users can change background maps but choosing an appropriate default helps a lot. You can find this setting in the ‘update map’ area after you create your map.

  4. Be specific

    Make your map focused both in topic and geography. If your project is complex, consider creating different, more specific maps for different topics within the same overall project. More specific maps attract more engagement. You might be surprised how many people share your niche interest.

  5. Backlink to a page that provides more background to your project

    Map descriptions have been kept brief in order to keep Mappit flexible and easy to use for all. If your map needs more background information you can include a url to a relevant webpage for more information.

  6. Embed your map elsewhere to reach a larger audience

    The participatory maps can be embedded elsewhere on the web to help you reach a larger audience. Add 'embed' to the url to use your map on your own website via an iframe like this , e.g "/layers/embed/your-map-name".

  7. Be even more specific!

    Make it very clear in the map description what exactly you are consulting about and what topics you will accept submissions on. Define any vague words or terms. Be clear about any rules regarding language, content and behaviour.

External resources


Background and guidelines for community mapping

Mapping Communities, Ethics, Values, Practise. By The East-West Center. Comprehensive discussion of participatory mapping via numerous case studies.

PPGIS Research Group The Manchester University Public Participation and GIS Research Group Page.

Good practices in participatory mapping Best-practice guide by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Includes chapter on web-based mapping.