Data visualization and storytelling

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How to create an interactive map story

See how we visualized the jaw-dropping rise of Airbnb in Istanbul using our interactive 3D map template

This blog post was updated in November 2022.

Interactive maps play a vital role in the data visualization world. They’re both engaging and digestible for your audience, and also allow you to visualize large datasets that other chart types may not be able to support. Add an interactive story to the equation, and you have a powerful data storytelling technique at your fingertips.

However, creating an interactive map often feels like an overwhelming task, especially to non-coders. Questions like ‘Where do I start?’ or ‘Do I show all data at once?’ are not uncommon.

Fortunately, our “3D map” template makes the process as easy as possible. Whether you need a point map, heatmap or a line map, this Flourish template will accommodate all your data visualization needs!

Create your own 3D map »

In the map story above, we used data from Inside Airbnb to illustrate the number of booked Airbnb properties in Istanbul throughout the years. By creating an autoplaying Flourish story, we focus on different time periods of the past decade to fully showcase the jaw-dropping rise of rental properties in the city.

How to create your own map story

One of the biggest benefits of the “3D map” template is that it uses latitude and longitude coordinates to plot points. This allows you to display information anywhere on the world map – here is a similar example of the Airbnb properties in London.

Screenshot of the Flourish editor displaying the Start time column binding

To create your own interactive map, you simply need a spreadsheet of the locations you want to plot with columns for latitude and longitude. This will visualize them, but the timeline will be hidden without a Start time binding for your points.

Bind a column containing dates or times under Start time to create a time map. In the Data tab, you also have the option to size your points according to a numerical column in your dataset – in the example above, we used the price per night of each property to size our points.

An additional perk of the “3D map” template are the immense customization options – your points can appear as circles, pulses or even merge into a heatmap! Have a play around and see what works best with your data.

Having trouble deciding which map type to use? This post will help you pick the most effective map type for your data.

Once you are happy with the style of your map and the timeline speed, it’s time to add the visualization to a Flourish story. Besides allowing you to autoplay your project, the story also lets you play particular timeline segments and lock specific areas of the map into view.

Animated GIF showing how to play a specific portion of your 3D map timeline in a Flourish story

Read detailed instructions on how to play specific portions of your timeline here.

Duplicate and edit each story slide to create the desired outcome. Here are a few help docs to get you started:

Create your own 3D map »

For more interactive map content…

Can you tell that we at Flourish love maps? To get you inspired, we’ve collected more examples that showcase the power of our versatile map templates – check some of those below.