The Guide to Map Design

Teach internal and external teams best practices and principals of creating beautiful custom mapping experiences.
The biggest differentiator the Mapbox platform offer teams building with location is customization. Mapbox wins when clients ship products that are uniquely aligned with the ‘look and feel’ of their brand.

Mapbox CEO charged me with teaching teams how to design custom maps with Mapbox. The Mapbox brand represented good design, but clients needed more guidance to get to that point. My charge was to show ‘the art of the possible’ and outline the steps to get teams to better custom maps.

This required mastery, simplification, abstraction, documentation, and training of the design process for map making. Leading me to invent, write, speak, and teach a design-focused process for modern map making with the Mapbox platform.

Speaking on Map Design Best Practices at Locate 2018

Since 2014, I have been somewhat of an expert on modern map design. I’ve given talks, written content, done webinars, and led workshops and trainings for hundreds of people interested in designing maps.

Much of my works have culminated in my 128-page book, The Guide to Map Design. Release online in 2017 and printed in 2018, this guidebook has taught external and internal readers the basics on map design and how modern web maps are built and how the work for web and mobile applications.

My role has been expert, author, motivator, and evangelist on modern map design. I have also worked to promote my work, managing speaking engagement and relationships with conference leads and organizers interested in this content.

Leading up to the book, I created and led presentations, workshops, talks, and training sessions outlining my process.

This process included everything from on the job training, to taking copious notes, to learning what people don’t understand about maps through user research and support tickets. First, I needed to understand how maps work, how the stack worked, then what elements were customizable.

After establishing that baseline understanding, I was able to abstract away complexities and drill-down to the visual elements and principles that made maps legible, readable, and delightful.

Research and concept screens.

The Guide to Map Design was first released in October 2017, align-side an in-person and online presentation. Goals for the guide aligned with marketing efforts to improve awareness and engagement by growing active developers. However, direct impact has been hard to track.

In June 2018, I spent 4 weeks design and preparing a high-resolution print version of the Guide to Map Design. And give 100 copies to a long line of Locate  attendees over the two-day conference.

Over 500 editions of this guide have been printed and distributed. It has also been downloaded online over 4,000 times. The goals for the guide aligned with Marketing’s early efforts to improve awareness, engagement, and grow active developers; however direct metrics on impact of the guide has been hard to track.

I have used this content to facilitate internal Map Design sprints as well as hour long Map Design / Intro to Mapbox Studio sessions that pulled from and evolved this content.

The guide is given to all new Mapbox hires and new Enterprise clients and still distributed at Mapbox booths at conferences and event worldwide.

Internal session

The portfolio of Amy Lee Walton.