Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Five Stages of Business Growth (25-slide PowerPoint presentation). This presentation introduces a framework for entrepreneurs to use when building and navigating their business from a nascent, startup state to an enterprise with a global footprint. This framework, called the 5 Stages of Business Growth, is based on the fact that all businesses experience common [read more]
How to Create Custom Google Maps for Your Business
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The most popular method for companies needing to create a map is using the Google Maps mobile application or website. The service does help produce quality maps without requiring a user to know to code. Although this tactic will work well for simple mapping applications, like generating a basic route or mapping out a few points, anyone wanting to customize their map may quickly become frustrated by the limited functionality.
Users have three options to choose from to create a custom Google map. Although developing a custom map may seem complicated, it’s relatively easy. Here are the three ways a user can create custom maps for their business.
Creating a Custom Map within Google Maps
Currently, the Google maps application allows users to create a custom map manually input markers or as a group online. This method is free to use, catering to inexperienced users. To use this method, log into the Google Maps website. Locate the menu on the top left-hand corner, displaying as three lines.
Choose the Your Places option under the menu and select the “Maps” tab from the right-hand side. Users can find the create map button at the bottom of the popup bar. Choose the marker icon you’d like to use. Individuals can add the marker directly to the page on the map creation page. Locate the proper position on the map and select where you’d like to place the tag.
Finally, enter the marker’s name, description, and any attributes when the icon appears. Repeat these steps for all available locations on the map. When finalized, users can customize the look and feel of their map.
How to Customize Your Map Details
If you’d like to customize the appearance of your map, choose the base map button. From there, select the first location, titled “Untitled Map.” This option will let you rename the map. The three dots on the right-hand side will allow individuals to rename the layers.
Creating a Custom Map Using Third-Party Mapping Software
Several third-party mapping programs are available as cloud-based software. These programs integrate custom map functions with many popular mapping applications, like Google Maps. These programs will create a Google map without manually inputting all the data. Most third-party software offers basic map development along with several additional features. Look for mapping software that integrates heat map generation, multi-stop route planners, and radius map tools.
To get started, open the mapping software you’ve chosen. Start by creating a new map. When the mapping application starts, choose the new map option. Enter the name in the popup menu and select continue.
After the map customizer appears, select the data source with your information. The data includes copying and pasting the data, Google sheets or a spreadsheet file. Individuals can manually input the information if none of these options are available.
After uploading all the consumer information, choose the “Place a marker on the map” option. Users that need to add more markers to their map can select the “Add a marker to your map” function. When finished uploading, the map will contain all data previously uploaded.
Creating a Custom Map Using the Google Maps API
Using Google Maps API will remove most limitations pre-established by Google Maps. Arguably the most complicated method of creating a custom map, this option is highly beneficial. Unfortunately, this method requires someone with extensive coding or programming experience. Creating a custom map with API is often time-consuming to implement and develop. The API map is also cost-prohibitive for the average business, especially when a programmer isn’t already on the payroll.
Which Option Works Best?
Unfortunately, choosing the best option for customizing your maps isn’t always the easiest. The Google Maps application is arguably the most cost-effective tactic but faces considerable limitations. A third-party mapping software combines the core functioning of Google Maps with many additional features. API functionality offers complete customization but intermediate levels of experience and cost. API might work long-term for those wanting to complete the entire customization for their map.
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About Shane AvronShane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.
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