ArcGIS Online

Create a great profile

First impressions mean a lot, which is why it’s important to create a user profile in ArcGIS Online that’s polished and professional.

Your ArcGIS user profile is how the rest of the world learns about you. It’s also a yardstick for measuring the value and veracity of your shared items and groups. Whether you’re making maps and apps for others in your GIS department, for users across your organization, or making maps and apps for public access, it’s both a good idea and a best practice to show your best profile if you want others to consider your content seriously.


The importance of a good profile

Unsure why it is important to have a good profile? Which of the profiles below inspires confidence? Whose maps, apps, and layers are you more likely to use or trust? Is it the person or organization with this profile?

Poor profile example

Or this one?

Good profile example


Create a professional profile

After getting your ArcGIS Online account, the first thing you should do is create a professional profile. After signing up you you’ll be presented with your current account information (which is blank by default).

It’s a good idea to complete your profile when your first sign in, but you can change it anytime by clicking My Profile in the drop-down under your name after signing in to your account.

Edit profile

Then click the pencil to edit your profile.

Edit your profile

You can edit your name and profile picture, and your biography.


Make sure your profile is visible

When you edit your profile, ensure that it’s visible to others. By default, your profile is only visible within your organization. Especially if you share items publicly, choose a Profile visibility of Everyone (public) so others can identify the source.

Set profile visibility

When organization administrators add new members, they can set Profile visibility during the invitation process. Profile visibility is found in the Settings tab in the Set member properties panel.

Set profile visibility

Note that your administrator may disable the ability for you to control profile visibility. See Configure security settings for more information.


Format your profile card

You can format your profile card to make it more authoritative and easier to recognize. The first step is to edit your name and avatar, the next is your bio.

Hover over your avatar to change it. Your image should be 200 x 200 pixels. Note that the image should look good in a round (not square) format.

Set profile avatar

Edit your name
Click the pencil next to your name to edit it. You can use a name that reflects your role in the organization. For example, if you are the GIS manager for a city you may want to use your city as the name or may want to include your title. Your actual user name will always be displayed underneath.

Profile name

Edit your bio
Your biography is the most important part of your profile, as it lets viewers know of who you are, what your role is, or a little more about the organization that you represent.

Tip: Keep your bio brief while still being informative. Insert carriage returns to break up long paragraphs for easier reading. You can add special characters (like the mail and phone symbols shown below) using HTML decimal codes.


Here’s what the formatting for the above looks like in the editor.

– mail symbol

– phone symbol

HTML decimal codes


What does a good profile card look like?

A professional profile card includes pertinent information about you, or the group or organization you represent. Things to consider including in your profile are a good avatar, some information about you, your roles and responsibilities (if appropriate), and contact information.

You can make your profile as long as you want, but it needn’t be a full biography or resume – just the important facts that will help others identify who you are. Here’s a colleague’s biography to see as an example:


This next example is short and to the point, with just the essential information.


When representing an organization, consider including the organization logo in your profile.

Grand Canyon Trust


Create a profile for your organization

When you share items on behalf of a company or organization, you may want the organization to be the recognized source instead of yourself or some other individual in the organization. This makes it easier to identify authoritative content originating from the organization, rather than an individual.

You can create an account with a profile representing the organization, and the administrator can transfer ownership of items as needed to that account. Note that ArcGIS terms of use prohibits sharing of account logins, so this must be a separate account.

The State of Utah Trust Lands Administration is a well-crafted example of an organization profile. Note the official logo, contact information, and link to the organization’s website.

Utah SITLA profile

Below is a slightly different style than the profile above, but still indicative of an authoritative source with all needed contact information.

Minneapolis GIS profile

This is another good example, and it’s easy to identify this as an authoritative source. Contact information might be nice addition.



Your profile and your items and groups

Your profile also provides an easy way for anyone to view your public items and groups. Your profile represents you professionally, and reflects upon your organization. Item and group thumbnails and documentation also reflect upon you, your organization, and the veracity of your content. Best practices are always a good idea.

Below is an example of a good profile with easy to identify item thumbnails, all combining to create an impression of professionalism and curated content.

View larger image

Customize your profile items

A best practice, and all-around good idea, is to customize the display of the items you want to show with your profile. When someone finds one of your items, they can view more by clicking View profile.

View profile

Your profile will display 12 items. By default, the items displayed will be your most relevant.

Default items by relevance

You can select the items you want to display, putting your best work forward, by clicking Customize items.

Customize items

Use the item picker to select the items you want to feature. Click Save when finished.

Item picker

Once you’ve selected the items you want to display, you can arrange your items by clicking to select an item card and dragging and dropping the card into a new position.

Drag and drop

This is a good way to apply focus on your best or most useful items, whether you are editing a personal profile or a profile that represents your organization.


Remember that even your groups are very easy to find via your profile, so adding good thumbnails to groups is a good idea. The example below shows using standardized thumbnails for all the user’s groups.

Minneapolis GIS

The next example shows the use of unique thumbnails for groups.

Salt Lake County


Summary and more information

You can edit and update your profile at any time, so it’s never too late to put your best profile forward. By doing so you’re letting others know who you are, or who you represent, offering context for others who may want to use your shared items. Remember that your profiles enables others to see item and group thumbnails easily, all of which combine to create an impression. Attention to small details will ensure you have a great, professional impression.

For more information, see:

This post was originally published on June 1, 2012, and has been updated.

About the author

I am a corporate technology evangelist and geo advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with ArcGIS. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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