How To Make A Map

how to make a map

There are thousands of articles describing how to make a map. There are a plenty of tutorials and descriptions — mostly about how to use Google Maps to accomplish this. Unfortunately a good number of those How To articles and videos focus on how to use the maps.google.com site to make your own version of a Google Map. A map that they host and control access to — which means it can change or go away at any time. Or Google can even decide to start suddenly charging fees for this free service — much like they did with Google Maps API Keys.

Making Maps The Hard Way

If you get beyond the “here is how to login to Google Maps and add your places to THEIR maps” articles you may find some “How To Make YOUR OWN Map” content. If you are running a website and want to put a map in your content, these articles are a good start. This is the type of “map making” you want to be looking into if you want to have a map on your site where you control a lot more of the look-and-feel. More importantly you control which PLACES appear on the map.

Typically you’ll start with getting to know the Google Maps JavaScript API. The How To articles will describe how to embed the basic JavaScript snippet on your site to get the map to appear. A little more coding and you can even drop your own maps pins on that map.

Making Maps The Hard Way
Making Maps The Hard Way

Once you get your map up-and-running you’ll soon find that you are looking for even more articles. Articles that take you deeper into things like “how to hide the places Google force-feeds onto your site” — sometimes showing competitors locations alongside yours. Or articles on how to change the marker style. Or hide secondary roads.

Before long you are months-deep into full-blown map development. If you can do these things yourself you may only be spending time. Often businesses are paying a web developer or web marketing agency a fairly hefty fee as they learn map building for your site.

Making Things A Little Easier

Thankfully many web presence service like WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace offer pre-built solutions. Some of these solutions are free but you pay for add-on services — much like the way our Store Locator Plus® WordPress plugins work. Nearly all of these services also require you obtain your own Google API Keys; Google has gotten too expensive for many of these pre-built map solution providers to include an “all you can eat buffet” of map views in their one-time purchase pricing.

Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress
Store Locator Plus® Map Software for WordPress

These pre-packaged management tools make it a lot easier to build and display a map on your site. Often you can upgrade to versions of these apps to provide access to the HTML, CSS, and advanced JavaScript rules to fully customize the user experience. Some tools even make a lot of the most-used features a simple mouse-click option on a menu of user experience options.

How To Make A Map – The Easy Way

While pre-packaged map making software can save a lot of time and money over build-it-yourself maps, it still requires you or your web team to manage things like Google API Keys. You’ll want to know how to properly secure those keys so nobody else can steal them from your web source code. Not too mention you’ll want to keep a close eye on your billing and web traffic — at $7 per 1,000 map views and geocoding requests it can add up quickly to hundreds-of-dollars per month in Google fees.

There is another option that takes the map software a step further. Software as a Service apps are popping up every day. These services are often far easier to use than working with Google directly. All of the better solutions completely manage your Google API keys while providing the flexibility and power available in the self-managed apps.

Store Locator Plus® map maker saas
Store Locator Plus® map maker saas

Many of our WordPress plugin users have found that moving over to our SaaS offering has freed up resources. They no longer are paying web experts to upgrade and update plugins. Make sure backups are saving their hours-and-hours of data entry in case one of those updates goes wrong. They also can stop worrying about security and people snarfing their Google API keys from their site.

Instead, they get to focus on their business. Building their products. Improving their services. And hopefully adding new locations to their maps as they grow.

Directory Listings By State

Directory Listings By State

Clients of the Store Locator Plus® SaaS offering have a new feature available to them — State Directory Listings of their locations.  Any account that is on the Professional or Enterprise level of service has this new feature available immediately.    It is our first iteration with more refinements and extensions planned in the coming months.

If you are already on the Professional or Enterprise level of service you can read the detailed instructions on how to display a list of states and get started today.

State Directory Listing
A simple JavaScript embed will show a list of states where you have a presence.

Solar Installers Directory, AWS S3 Static Hosting

Check out our latest pet project, our Solar Installers Directory.   Solar Installers Directory is a mobile friendly website hosted on an Amazon S3 bucket.   It has full https security, Cloudfront distributed content, and virtually zero server overhead.    The locations map is provided by our Store Locator Plus® SaaS service.

About S3 Hosting

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides high-availability cloud storage via their S3 service.   Typically this is used to host off-site content such as backups or data that is not needed on a regular basis.    Some people use it to see AWS Cloudfront, a content distribution network, to speed up their sites for images or other content.   A lesser-known trick is using the S3 bucket to host a website.

While there are some limitations to what you can do, the site is static HTML + JavaScript + CSS, those last two components make “static” websites a far more viable option.    Modern user experiences can be built for any business that does not need a full database-driven site.    This is an exceptionally good fit for a “calling card” web presence.