Creating a Visual Mind Map
There are many ways to expand a simple idea into a complex design. My personal favorite way is through the creation of a mind map.
Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, education, and business. Ideas are inserted into the map around a center thought (the seed), without the organization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements (grouping and organizing is reserved for later stages).
A Mind Map consists of four essential elements:
- The idea (seed) is placed in the center of a blank page.
- The main themes of the central idea radiate from the central image on connecting lines or branches.
- Each branch holds a key word, and secondary ideas radiate out from each branch.
- The branches form a connected structure back to the central idea.
I find the best time to create a mind map of a project is when I’m fully rested and calm with the world. Remember, a mind map is all about free association.
Getting back to the mind map of our fictional Web site... The name of your business is YouTechTube, a place to store and display home videos on technology. Start the process by getting away from any possible distractions; turn off the television, get away from cell phones. Music is totally optional, and might help to focus your mind by eliminating any distracting background noise. The supplies you need are some plain white paper, and few colored pencils, the answers to the 5 W questions, and an uncluttered mind.
Start by drawing a circle in the middle of the page, and write the title of your site in the circle. You draw a line out from the center circle, like the branch of a tree, and on the branch you write the word, Applications. Then, using smaller branches, you begin listing the applications you believe will be needed to accomplish your goal: Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, etc. As you write down Final Cut Pro, you realize that you don’t have much experience with that application; however, it will be very important in the design and compression of your video files. A good friend of yours, Harold Driver, is an expert and so you make a smaller branch next to Final Cut Pro and write, Contact Harold.
The process of free association is that one thought will inevitably lead to another related thought. If at any time you seem at a standstill, simply reread the answers you gave to the 5 basic W questions, and it should give you the mental inspiration to continue.
Once the mind map is complete, you might want to clean it up by entering the information from the hand-drawn sketch into a word processor. Sometimes by retyping the details of the mind map, it helps to spot things you might have forgotten. If you prefer doing your mind maps on a computer, check out the following Web sites:
- Mindmap. http://www.conceptdraw.com/en/products/mindmap/main_mac.php
- Inspiration. http://www.inspiration.com/
- MindGenius. http://www.mindgenius.com/
- Mind manager. http://www.mindjet.com/uk/
- Mind tools. http://www.mindtools.com/
- Open source Freemind. http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Remember that a mind map does not lock you in stone; it’s simply ideas on how you are going to proceed with construction of your Web site.
The process of mind mapping a simple project can go very quickly. The more complex the project, the more involved the mind map. However it is time well spent. Most studies show that planning complex project will wind up saving you time... up to twenty percent.