Knowledge base

Thinking Through StoryMap Creation

StoryMaps are designed to bring all the pieces of mapping and data collection together to tell a story in an engaging format. You can combine maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia to create a unique experience. Before we start sharing all available resources, it’s important to think about what this StoryMap aims to accomplish and what elements can make that effort most successful.

StoryMap Strategy

1. Objective: When you start thinking about or creating a StoryMap, it is really important to think first about the objective. What are you hoping to achieve or communicate and why? Once you identify your objective, you should shape the content of your StoryMap so that it is as effective and engaging as possible.

Tip: “Raising awareness” isn’t an objective. What do you hope that raising awareness will achieve or lead to?

2. Audience: After identifying your objective, think about who your intended audience is? How will this StoryMap be shared? Who do you want to see it and who is the ultimate decision-maker to achieve your objective? Are the decision-maker and audience the same?

When thinking about audiences, think about what they care about? What are the issues and values that speak to them and how can you lift those values up in your StoryMap?

Tip: “Everyone” or the “general public” isn’t an audience. The more specific you can get, the better. Who do you want to reach with this? Who are the decision-makers and influencers on this issue?

3. Next Steps: What are you hoping your audience takes away or does in response to this StoryMap? Is there a specific call to action or are you hoping they reach out to you?

Tip: Think about what next steps should be tied back to your objective.

Collecting Story Elements

4. Story Arch: Creating a story arch can be done by sharing an overarching conflict and potential solution which we recommend including when creating a StoryMap. This won’t work for all content and StoryMaps but hopefully provides an idea of what content would be helpful.

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5. Existing Materials: What relevant materials do you already have that you might want to include? This could be project reports, relevant research, images, videos, graphics, dashboards, or data sets.

6. Creating Materials: What content needs to be created to illustrate your story? Most often, you will probably have to draft some written context to tell the story. Think about what information the reader needs to understand the situation.

Putting the Pieces Together

After you have conceptualized how to fit existing materials and new content together to create a story, you should be all set to build your StoryMap in ArcGIS. As you build your StoryMap, take a step back and consider the objectives set at the beginning. This should also be done after you’ve finished your first draft Does this StoryMap ultimately link to your objective and audience?

For tech instructions on how to build StoryMaps in ArcGIS check out these StoryMap How-to Guides in our Training & Support Center.