App of the Week | Custom Google Maps

In our never-ending quest to find cool new ways to display information, we present to you Google’s own custom map maker. While a timeline can be a great way to establish a chronology or linear narrative of information, a map can display content spatially in both linear and non-linear fashion.

Let’s say you’re doing a project on the battles of the civil war or Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Custom Google Maps can give you the tools you need to add mapping and interactivity to your project.

When you create a new map, you’ll want to name the map and the default layer. Layers are used to organize the content of your maps. You can also change the visual theme of your map under the Base Map tab. If you’ve already got map data in the form of a CSV/KML file or spreadsheet, you can import it to auto-create your custom map.

The main content of your maps will be in the form of markers and paths. Markers mark locations on your map and come with custom icons, images, colors, and descriptions/content. You can use the search box to look up places of interest and add them to your map, or click the marker icon to place down a marker in a custom location.

Paths can either show custom area shapes on your map, or routes through your map (driving, biking or walking). These can be used to show directions from one place to another or historic routes. In addition, you can also use the ruler to create paths that show distance from certain points of interest.


If you’d like to use Google Maps for a project you’re doing and want some advice/help, drop us a line at!

About William Enders

A sophomore Design and Technology major at Parsons School for Design, focusing on interactive media and video games.