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Alteryx Designer Knowledge Base

Definitive answers from Designer experts.

Heat Map vs. Thematic Map

Alteryx Alumni (Retired)


A Heat map is generally thought of as showing off hot spots or concentrations of a value or spatial object. In this case, we're showing areas where customers are located and their purchases in the same color ramp as the Thematic map, High = Light, Low = Dark.  Generally speaking, the heat is created by overlaying a grid across the map and adding values to the cells based on the presence of data within them. Cells that didn't contain something are given values usually based on the distance from a cell that did. There are many ways to do this and Alteryx provides a tool to help make it easier appropriately called Heat Map.


A Thematic map (or more specifically Choropleth map) is often made by shading standard geographical areas/units based on a value for that area. These can represent many various data types across the areas they cover. This is the standard shaded map that is used the most often.  It's simple to understand, people generally know the geographic units being used (zip codes in my sample map), and values can be easily seen/compared.  This is likely the better option I've found in most cases but not all.  Since you're providing a single value for an area this can distort your data to look like it influences the whole area shaded but depending on what went into making that value this may not be accurate, even if correct. 



Heat Map Thematic Map
heat_map.png thematic_map.png

Both maps were created in Alteryx using the same base data set of points.



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7 - Meteor

Hi @RussellD , this explanation was very helpful, thank you.

I am trying to build a thematic map at the state level, shaded by the count of customers in each state. I feel like this should be relatively straight forward, but I am struggling to put the pieces together. Could you share the workflow you used to generate the maps above so that I can take a look to see how you built your thematic map?


5 - Atom

Yes would like to know the workflow as well. Can't figure out how to show zip codes as polygons and not points.

5 - Atom

Also stuck with the "shading standard geographical areas/units"  I would love a standard file for all US states and counties. If not a explanation on how to create the standard geographical areas. PLEASE HELP!😁

5 - Atom

Good morning Alteryx community,


Has anyone found the solution to shading regions (zip code, county, etc) based on the number of records in that area?


Thank you!