Use Ecosystem Maps to Show, Not Tell

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What properties and


-party systems are part of your digital ecosystem? Who writes, edits, and posts the content that’s on your website? And most importantly, who is responsible for making all of those things work together seamlessly?

If your brain started melting just reading those questions and your


thought was, “I have no idea,” you’re not alone. Extensive work might be needed to uncover those answers because digital ecosystems tend to involve way more people and tools than you think. Maybe your community engagement team actually posts their events on the website themselves, or perhaps you use a Salesforce integration to personalize your content – and that data is managed by the sales team. So, the most straightforward answer to who is involved? Everyone.

It can be hard to explain that your digital ecosystem goes beyond your web team and involves more than your website because that doesn’t usually show up in org charts, job descriptions, or other formal planning processes. So how do you explain that to your executive team — who might not know a


from a


— in a way that everyone understands? Try using a diagram like an ecosystem map.

An ecosystem map is a visual representation of your digital ecosystem. It provides a comprehensive overview of the digital assets, components, technologies, data flows, and stakeholders that make up your digital environment.

Benefits of diagrams

A diagram like an ecosystem map can break down complicated concepts into easy-to-understand components that provide clarity that text alone cannot achieve. They can serve as a common language, especially for executive teams who might only be involved in a final presentation but still need to understand what went into its conclusions and recommendations. Finally, executives are more likely to remember and recall the information presented in a visual format, so they can explain your digital ecosystem to others when needed.

Benefits of ecosystem maps

In your org chart, the web team appears to have oversight of your content and they are responsible for writing, editing, and posting it on your website. Seems straightforward, right? Not so fast.

We have worked with enough clients to know it’s never quite that simple. That’s where an ecosystem map can highlight what is hiding under the surface. It can show how different teams, not just your web team, have de facto oversight of some content. The process of creating an ecosystem map can also uncover


-party software that is used on your website.

Let’s look at a few examples of ecosystem maps we have created for past clients and how those diagrams helped everyone get a better understanding of their digital ecosystems.




National Trade Association

We worked with a national trade association in the healthcare insurance space to redesign their website. We developed an ecosystem map that highlighted all the people who were responsible for the content on their site and what


-party systems were used with that content.

In the example below, we used solid lines to connect individual people and entire departments to the content they are responsible for adding to their website and dotted lines for people who provide oversight of that content. We included gray circles for


-party systems — like their webinar provider, course providers, events tracker, and job-tracking software — and mapped them to the relevant people and departments. We also used a tag icon to represent that tags were the way they tied different types of content together.