Web Maps

Combine mapping technology to build websites and apps with the geographic information users need

Table of contents

Web maps can be a powerful solution for companies looking to provide interactive mapping tools, visualize and analyze geospatial data, and advertise their products or services to specific geographic audiences.

What is a web map?

Web maps are a visual representation of geographic data on the internet. They allow developers to integrate maps into their online applications, so users can view data in an interactive, geospatial format.

If your website needs to share multiple layers of geographic data with your customers, web maps are the way to go. Customers can use web maps to navigate easily between several layers of map data, including businesses they're interested in visiting, features of the city around them, or proximity calculations.

What are the basic web map elements?

Web maps combine multiple layers of geographic information and computer coding to provide users with detailed, interactive, and insightful maps. Whether it is comparing population growth in competing areas or identifying gas stations along a route, web maps make mapping analysis tasks easy to perform.

Web maps combine the following elements to create a seamless final product…


The basemap is the element with the fewest bells and whistles but is the most crucial. This is the base that additional layers build upon. It is often static, like a paper map, and provides context to integrate more dynamic layers of geographic information.

Mapbox uses dynamic vectors in its basemap, allowing its maps to adjust for varying pitch, bearing, and zoom levels. That means the web maps can adjust seamlessly to any perspective a user desires.

Data Layers

Data layers, also known as “business,” “operational,” or “thematic” layers, are what give web maps their advanced utility. Layered on top of the basemap, each data layer allows users to gain different subsets of information.

Points of interest, traffic information, proximity measurements, and much more can be added as data layers, which provide users with helpful information and make web maps come alive.


The extent is the geographic region covered by a web map. Demarcated by specific coordinates, these limits dictate the boundaries of a web map’s given territory. Some dynamic web maps allow users to expand or shrink the map’s extent to fit a desired geographic range.


The legend, or key, identifies features on the web map. Built solely for user accessibility, the legend makes the map easier to read by describing the meaning of a map's colors, abbreviations, or other functional symbols.

For example, a legend might explain that a red triangle indicates a slow-down on the road, while a capital “P” indicates a parking area.


Web maps are engaging tools because they are interactive. By allowing users to move between data layers, click on points of interest, or otherwise interact with the geographic information available, web maps feel energetic, powerful, and personalized.

What are web maps used for?

Web maps are the best way to look at geographic data on a screen. Some of the most common uses for web maps include:

  • Interactive maps for organizations to share information about their locations and services.
  • Functional maps for real estate agents to help keep track of properties in their area.
  • Routing directions featuring geospatial information and noteworthy stops.
  • Local event listings that show what’s happening in an area at a given time.
  • Data visualization tools for exploring location-based statistics, such as population density, average income levels, or typical weather conditions.
  • City planning applications to measure public transport efficiency and accessibility.
  • Marketing products or services to a specific geographic area based on demand.

Get Started with Web Maps powered by Mapbox

Looking to improve your high-quality web maps?

This interactive tutorial makes it easy to start programming web maps with your own blend of data layers and geospatial information.

Mapbox GL JS introduces the best performance, styling, and interactivity for maps that are fast, reliable, and full of relevant data. Users can seamlessly navigate layers of geographic information faster, more accurately, and with greater precision.

For web pages that go beyond local, Mapbox Globe View is a perfect choice. This mapping tool assists with worldwide search functions so organizations can visualize their global operations. This can assist with global travel itineraries, weather patterns, or other metrics international users would want to see on a map.

Give your users the full range of flexibility web maps can offer with Mapbox Maps.

Explore more about Mapbox

Frequently asked questions

What is a web map?

A web map is a dynamic online map that displays relevant data layers over a geographic context.

What are the basic web map elements?

The basic web map elements include a basemap, data layers, extent, legend and interactivity.