Trends and ideas for interactive maps in 2021 - part 1

Let’s face it - maps can be beautiful. Many interactive maps are also quite intuitive and some of them are packed with features, that make you question everything you knew about maps.

We searched through tons of different maps to pick our favorites and share the results with you. Here are five different approaches to interactive maps that you want to check out,

Use hand-drawn elements - Step Inside Asia

This beautifully illustrated map takes you on a tour inside four Asian countries. A handcrafted but professional look with clever animations looks good, and you may find yourself just browsing around with no purpose. Clicking a location takes you further in a 3D-view and gives you additional information about the destination.

Explore the map:

A hand-drawn map of Asia

Create an adventure - The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks is more of an interactive experience with map-like elements, but still an interesting take on area exploration. The service spans five National Parks in the U.S. and takes you on an adventure using a combination of 3D-video, Google Earth data, and audio.

Explore the map:

An aerial view of Hawai'i volcanoes

Think bigger - Ancient Earth Globe

What did our beloved pale blue dot look like 20 million years ago? Or maybe 600 million years ago? Ancient Earth Globe takes you back in time and shows how the continents have shifted.

Explore the map:

A picture of earth 240 million years ago

Impress with subtle animations - Statskog Millionen

The Norwegian Statskog (State Forest) grants every year a total of 1.000.000 NOK to different organizations, that are doing nature-related work. All of those organizations are listed on this elegant map with subtle and elegant animations.

Explore the map:

A deep green map of Norway

Don't be afraid to keep it simple - European Word Translator

Maps and translations often go hand in hand as you may travel to new destinations trying to learn at least a word or two in the local language. European Word Translator cleverly combines the two elements displaying the correct translation for a chosen word in every European language.

With a great idea, you don't always need to follow the latest graphical trends to have an interesting map.

Explore the map:

European map with the word 'maps' translated in every language


Interactive maps have evolved and become more versatile every year and 2021 will be no exception.

All of the examples above are very different in the way they look and what their purpose is. And that's also something you should consider when searching for the right maps to fit your needs.

Every map is unique and the same approach isn't optimal for every case. Do you want your map to be a visually stunning piece of art or should it be a simple tool for displaying information with no distractions?

If you want to upgrade your current maps, don't' hesitate to contact us. We are always here to help.


    Kartat kuntamarkkinoinnin keinona

    Maps as a tool for city marketing

    Place branding is an old phenomenon and municipalities have also practiced it for a long time. Some of the famous examples include Jerusalem's reputation as the Holy City and Las Vegas with its more fast-paced image.

    However, the modern masses of easily accessible information require new ideas and continuous development for city brands to really stand out.

    This is where map-based solutions also come into play. Using an interactive map may not sound like a groundbreaking idea, but with the right execution it can be a valuable tool to serve both the citizens and administration of the city. A modern interactive map fits the city's brand and it lets you display vast amounts of information in a clear format.

    It all comes down to the user-experience - even the occasional tourists should feel comfortable seeing your map for the first time.

    With these things in mind we created Zoneatlas Discover, our interactive map creator that can be used by cities of any size.

    Map-based engagement for cities

    We have also found out that public engagement is often seen as an important possibility when talking about map-based solutions. Cities, nature areas and businesses have used map-based engagement to track maintenance needs, gather ideas for future development and to find out if the public opinions are in line with their own vision. The subject has been studied more extensively and citizen's involvement in city branding seems to be on the rise all around the world.

    Maps offer an versatile platform for conversation, and with Zoneatlas Engage you can transform your map into a interactive discussion forum. When a random tourist or even a seasoned local is exploring your map, they can instantly share feedback, ideas and experiences about different locations. Or maybe you just want to create a simple survey and give the general public a change to show what they would do to make the city more attractive? Location-specific feedback is easily interpretable information to support your decision making.

    One of the biggest advantages of an interactive service such as Zoneatlas Discover or Zoneatlas Engage is its versatility. It allows you to gather, organize and display data from multiple sources and offer your audience a single service where they can find all that information.

    Improving location specific feedback with Retkikompassi

    We started developing Retkikompassi to help Metsähallitus improve customer interaction with hikers and to gather location specific feedback. Metsähallitus is a state-owned enterprise that is responsible for developing the Finnish National Parks and various other nature areas.

    The aim for Retkikompassi was to become a digital platform, that makes it easy to give feedback straight to Metsähallitus for example about the conditions of a lean-to or just to share your thoughts and discuss the trails with other users.

    How did it all begin?

    The feedback regarding your own organization is nowadays scattered across multiple social media sites, emails, feedback forms and random chatter. We have come a long way from the times, when a red mailbox was all you needed to know what your customers think. This is the reason why it’s getting even more important to be present in all the right medias, but to also offer new means for conversation. When the organization itself offers a platform for conversation, it becomes much easier to be actively involved and make the necessary changes based on the feedback.

    What is the right way to obtain the right services?

    We got involved in the pilot project as a result of an innovation challenge held by Metsähallitus. The customer valued our knowledge about combining geographical information, technology and design. The work began in June 2019 and as the result of continuous design, dialogue and development, we built a service that allows users to share feedback and target it on the locations and structures in the geographical information systems of Metsähallitus.

    The procurement process allowed us to use our expertise in crafting a practical solution, that proved the usefulness and benefits of the final service. Retkikompassi has been continuously planned, developed and its functionality has been tested according to the guidelines of the process.

    Where are we now?

    We published the latest version on May 8th 2020 and it now covers also the Nuuksio and UKK National Parks in addition to the previously added hiking areas of Evo and Ruunaa. We made radical changes to the interface to make the conversation easier and promote the visibility of user-generated content. The appearance was also updated to better represent the new, soon to be released visual identity of Metsähallitus.

    During the spring users have shared their photographs, reported maintenance needs and asked questions about the local services. The employees of Metsähallitus have also been actively participating in the conversation and the service is being tied even more tightly into their daily workflow.

    We feel that in the future map-based user participation and the acquired data has huge potential to steer the development of nature areas, cities and businesses in the right direction.

    This is the reason why we seek growth from interactive maps

    Our history until this day has already been full of interesting chapters and diverse web development projects. The scale of our projects has steadily grown and we have been honing our skills on the fields of map-based products and geographical information systems.

    In most cases, an interactive map is understood as an embedded Google Map with a couple of single points of interest. However, we feel that more modern solutions that combine stylish design and induce authentic interaction have lots of unused potential.

    In 2019 we made to decision to seek growth from interactive map services, which combine our unique expertise on the fields of design, web development, user experience and geographical information systems.

    As a result, we also came across a difficult decision: our company name had to be changed. Tietotemput had been a great name for our web development projects, but unlike Zoneatlas, it didn’t reflect our special expertise. As the company grew, we also wanted our name to sound bigger and be meaningful to our international clients as well. We had mainly concentrated on helping our customers grow, but now we also wanted to invest on our own growth.

    We’ve always had a desire to make a dent in the universe. Developing scalable products in addition to offering project-like services creates an opportunity to pursue our goals. At the same time our products help our customers to put their businesses on a map – quite literally. We still serve both old and new clients with the same straightforward attitude, seeking to improve our services even more.

    The journey has already been rewarding and we have recruited new, lively personas and experts on various field to our growing team. We have also worked with really interesting clients creating ambitious and completely new services. One really cool example is the map-based participation platform, that we developed for Metsähallitus.

    But this is only the beginning on our new journey. There are still countless stories to tell about our partners, colleagues and achievements. That’s why you’ll be hearing a lot more from us through our blog and social media platforms.