Embedded maps and media are an inherent and essential part of any story map. But in certain cases you may want to embed more than just a map—you may want to embed another story map to help tell your story, using story maps as building blocks for other story maps.
To embed, or not to embed?
Embedding a story map within a story map can be a powerful addition to your story, however, it is not always desirable. It can detract from your story, and create a more complicated experience for the viewer by presenting too many options when a more streamlined approach might be better. And if you embed too many different kinds of story maps, the juxtaposition from one user experience to another might confuse the user, and detract from the story. But used prudently and wisely, embedding story maps within other story maps can add new context, detail, and complement your overall storytelling needs.
Of the story map choices, Story Map Journal, Story Map Series, and Story Map Cascade make for good prospective story map hosts. Their layouts enable the effective use of an embedded story map, of course depending on which story maps you embed.
Story Map Swipe and Spyglass is one of the most effective to embed, because it’s has a simple user experience and offers specific capabilities that can enhance your story. But other story maps and story map combinations can be used effectively, see the Examples section below.
Minimize before embedding
One thing to consider is that each Story Map has its own title, subtitle, and other application elements that might duplicate other text and functions when embedded. For that reason you will want to minimize the user interface. A URL parameter (&embed) can be used to minimize the UI of the following story maps: Story Map Basic, Story Map Tour, Story Map Swipe and Spyglass, Story Map Shortlist, and Story Map Series.
Minimizing the UI makes for a more streamlined appearance, and eliminates duplication of titles, descriptions, and other elements. Other story maps can be embedded, however the UI cannot be minimized.
The link below opens a Story Map Spyglass as normally configured:
The following link opens a Story Map Spyglass using &embed to minimize the UI:
As mentioned previously, Story Map Swipe and Spyglass is a good choice for embedding, offering simple and useful capabilities to compare two layers or maps.
How to embed a Story Map
It’s easy to embed a story map, simply add them as a Web page in the hosting story map builder. For the purpose of embedding, it’s best to streamline the story map you wish to embed and remove any unneeded extras. Unneeded extras to eliminate might be the title, summary, links, description, and other elements that can be replaced by elements in the host story map. Use &embed whenever possible.
The simpler the story map, the better for embedding, and this might mean authoring a different version of a story map specifically for that purpose.
In the examples below you can follow along using Spyglass on the Past: Chicago 1868 and Today (a Story Map Swipe & Spyglass). Click the link to view it, and note the use of &embed at the end of the story map’s URL.
Story Map Series
To embed a story map in a Story Map Series, follow the steps below.
Step 1. Add a new tab, entry, or bullet depending on the layout chosen, and enter a title.
Step 2. Choose Web page.
Step 3. Copy and paste the story map URL, making sure &embed is appended.
Step 4. Click Configure.
5. Choose Fill (the default).
6. Click Add and complete the tab, entry, or bullet.
Story Map Journal
To embed a story map in a Story Map Journal follow the steps below.
Step 1. Add a new Section, and in the Main Stage Content enter a title.
Step 2. Choose Web page.
Step 3. Copy and paste the story map URL, and make sure &embed is appended.
Step 4. Click Configure.
Step 5. Choose Fill (the default).
Step 6. Click Next to complete the new section.
Story Map Cascade
Story Map Cascade is composed of sections containing narrative text and media, such as images, web map and web scenes, videos, or other web content. Sections can be sequential or immersive, and story maps can be embedded in both types.
To embed a story map in Story Map Cascade follow these steps.
Step 1. Add a sequential or immersive section.
Step 2. Add Media.
Step 3. Click Link to Content.
Step 4. Paste the story map URL (including &embed) into the input box.
Step 5. Click the check mark.
Step 6. Complete authoring your Cascade, and save.
This Story Map Series from Georgia DNR embeds a minimized Story Map Swipe in the third tab to show the change in disease spread from 2013 to 2017. This is an effective use of embedding to add additional capabilities and context within the hosting story map.
This Story Map Series from Energy.gov uses tabs to organize embedded Story Map Journals. What’s nice about this app is that it’s a consistent pattern – each tab has a Story Map Journal, making the user experience seem seamless.
Summary and more information
Like adding seasoning to a fine meal, less is often more. Use embedded story maps within other story maps sparingly, and only when essential to tell your story.
Consider consistency – If you intend to embed multiple story maps think about being consistent, and using the same story map apps, as in the example above. When authoring story maps to be used as building blocks for other story maps, the design and implementation will likely be different than if they were meant to be used standalone.
Always strive for simplicity when crafting a story map, a simple story is often the most effective. But with careful thought and planning, embedding can add additional meaning, context, and value.
For more information see:
This post was originally published on April 12, 2015, and has been updated.