Embedding Google Maps on your website doesn't always have the right effect on the design. With some effort you can stylize Google Maps, but I have bad experiences with that.

To me, the only real reason to embed the Google map is the interactivity and the fact visitors can easily plan a route.

When I'm advising clients what to use I name the aesthetic value of the static stylized map and the interactive possibilities of the Google map. Most of the time they don't question my advice and go for the Google Map, but recently a client asked me about the usage of the Google map. How often do visitor actually use the interactive possibilities of the Google Map? I couldn't answer.

My personal experience is that I never use any Google maps on websites. Often they are 300x500 pixels and just too small to use easily. The Google Maps website is often more clear with the big, window filling, map.

Does anyone have any statistics or experience with this issue? (I couldn't find any)

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    Purely subjective here - but I often use the embedded map on sites to zoom out to give me some context as to their actual location. (I'm not looking for full navigation, just a way to zoom out until I recognise the general area). Specific street address may be useful for people who know the area of the place, but just a zoomed in map showing 'George St' and 'Martin Luther King Bvd' is no use to someone not familiar with the location.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 14:28
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    Have you considered using some other map services? E.g. the BBC chose to use Openstreetmap, there are also the Bing Maps or Here Maps which are also a good alternative. Just wanted to point out to whoever finds this that it's not only about the Google Maps really Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 12:00

4 Answers 4


Coming from a cartography background, I agree with you in a sense. Some of those maps are useless, however some are quite useful. Let's take a look at a couple examples.

The first is something like you describe like on the Yelp website when you search. The link provided takes you to a search I did searching for Taco places in NYC and as you can see, this map isn't very helpful IF you want to browse using the map. In this particular case however, that isn't the main point of why Yelp wanted you to go to their website. They wanted you to go to browse listings, read and create reviews, add photos, etc. Having the map there is like a cherry on top.

The next example is something like AirBnB when searching for a place to stay. The map takes up half of the screen, but the intention is that the user will browse the list on the left first, then continue on the right with the map to make sure the location is close to attractions, friends, or whatever else they want to see.

The final example is something like Padmapper while looking for apartments and homes. In this case, the filters are somewhat of a secondary measure, because without the map, you would be browsing a giant list of apartments. This isn't super helpful because in real estate, it's all about "Location, Location, Location!".

So to answer your original question...

What's your opinion?

My answer would be it depends on what you want to the user to do with the map. One thing to always keep in mind though is the smaller the map, the harder it will be to interact with it. So if you want to put a map up that you want your users to use, make sure it is big enough so people don't get so frustrated they leave your site.

Also, consider other alternatives other than Google Maps. Leaflet has a great set of tools to create awesome looking maps and there are plenty of tile sources out there, like the ones from Stamen Design to help give you the perfect look for your map.


Typically maps shown on a website are small as they aren't the focus of the page, and so trying to navigate or interact with a small map is a nightmare. So usability wise, the interactivity is poor.

To me the best option is to use a good looking stylistic map, but make it clickable and link it to an interactive online map where a user can use the full screen. Something like the map below.

Map of Delft

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    I like the idea of linking to Google Maps (or other interactive map) with full route description, maybe even with 'your location' selected. Commented Feb 2, 2015 at 9:50

I just randomly found this but thought that I could help out in some way.

You ought to check out a company like Mapbox! A great, styler for Google Maps design. This customizer is great for these GM integrations.

Also, in my personal experience, I have used maps in websites before. In commerce design, it's essential for displaying the numerous retailers your client is located. However the use of static VS interactive depends solely on context – what is the user trying to do with the map? Getting a glance at a location? Or planning a trip? Etc.


It depends greatly on the nature of your app. If you only need to highlight the location of your business consider a static or extremely simple map embedded for reference.

If you need directions - as somebody above mentioned - you can link to a directions provider like Google (with the destination prepopulated) to guide users to the business.

Yelp or AirBnB use a Partial Map to relate results in a list to their geographic location on the map. The map also serves as a 'spatial filter' to adjust the results accordingly.

Concluding I don't think you are after statistics for what works better but ought to think about the purpose of using a map which will inform the best approach.

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