Browsing all those online maps showing all kinds of data, from the average salary in European countries to a number of active players of WOW by country. They are cool to browse, usually are quite informative, but they are also easier to create than you thought. All you have to do is visiting one of the many free map-constructing sites, choose the info you want to show and then spend some time in constructing your custom map.

While most of the sites are quite easy to use, most of them still can be a bit confusing, especially for first-time map creators. Because of that, we decided to make a custom map on our own and explain each step of the process. You’ll see that the most important thing when making your own map isn’t knowledge about mapping or even your proficiency with using new tools. The most important thing needed for constructing a quality custom map is finding information that’s interesting to read about, easy to get, that includes as many countries in the world as possible, and most importantly, finding a piece of information that wasn’t featured in an online map before.

For this guide, we choose to visualize the table of world heritage sites by country and find out which countries have the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are 1,052 World Heritage Sites located in 165 states in total. Most of them are cultural (814) followed by natural sites (203) and mixed properties (35). You can check the entire World Heritage Sites table on Wikipedia. So, let us begin.

First, you must divide your data into groups. For instance, we divided the World Heritage countries into six groups
- More than 40 World Heritage Sites - 21-40 World Heritage Sites - 11-20 World Heritage Sites - 5-10 World Heritage Sites - Less than 5 World Heritage Sites - Countries with not a single one World Heritage Site

It’s important not to make too few groups, but also try to avoid making more than 10 groups in total. You can find a mean value and then find out the normal distribution and mean error. If you aren’t good at statistics, just make sure that all groups have at least one member. Next, let us chose the site we will use for creating the map.

We chose mapchart.net as our map-creating tool. The site allows users to create all kinds of maps completely free, and it offers a wide selection of maps to be filled. You can create a map of the whole world, of each continent as well as maps of selected countries. There are different levels of details to be chosen and, generally, mapchart.net has a pretty solid library of default maps on which you can build upon. For our map, we picked a detailed world map, since some island countries have World Heritage Sites, and those countries aren’t shown in the regular map of the world.
Choosing The Right Map

After you decide which placeholder map you’ll use for creating a custom map, give the map a title. The legend option is located just under the step 2 label.

The next step is choosing a color to represent each group. The general advice is to pick shades of red only if you want to depict some “negative” data. For instance, the number of deaths from cancer by country, suicides by country, poverty by country, or something similar. If, like us, you want to present a neutral, or positive data, pick shades of green or blue. We decided to use shades of green, along with orange for countries that have zero World Heritage Sites.

The construction process is pretty straightforward. Once you finished dividing data into groups, all you have to do is to select colors to depict each group and start filling countries with appropriate colors. As you can see below, we are advancing pretty fast with our custom map of World Heritage Sites.

You can assign a custom label for each group, which is pretty neat.
After hours of data-entering, our map is almost ready. Just look how we completely changed the empty placeholder map and change it into something informative and fun to browse! You can do it without any problems, just follow our guide.
It’s pretty simple, but let’s go through the all necessary steps one more time:
1. Find the data you want to depict
2. Divide the data into groups for easier placement on the map
3. Pick your favorite online map creating tool (we choose mapchart.net)
4. Select color choices for filling different countries (or states, or regions, or whatever)
5. Fill the map
6. That’s It!

In just a couple of hours, you’ll have your own custom map showing whatever you like. Custom maps are really cool and can be used for presentations, for educational purposes (we think teachers would have the most reasons to create their own custom map to show something interesting to their students), for work, or just for having a bit of fun. No matter what’s your reason it’s good to know that you can create your own map without any mapping knowledge.

As you can see below, the final product – a fully finished custom map showing the number of World Heritage Sites By Country is looking great. We used orange for showing countries without any World Heritage Site in order for them to be clearly visible. We placed a blank world map below our custom map in order to show the sheer level of metamorphosis the blank map will experience after you start filling it with data.

So, that’s it! We finished our guide and at the same time managed to construct this neat World Heritage map. Thanks for reading and we hope that this guide helped you in creating your own custom map you’ve dreamt about making.