It’s 1994. You’re watching Saturday morning television. Your eyes grow wide as the magician on screen stares at a bowl, squinting her eyes. The bowl starts shaking. The music intensifies, then boom! It elevates a few feet above the ground.
While this may be the most exciting example of “mind control” from your childhood, you probably learned more mind tricks growing up than you realized. (“Please excuse my dear aunt Sally,” ring a bell?) For instance, you learned writing something down helps you better focus and diagramming makes everything even more memorable. (A picture’s worth a thousand words, after all.)
So by the time you started working as part of a design or product team, your understanding of mind tricks had probably matured to entail a few pictures here, some points there, and some lines in between. Well, we’re here today to tell you that you can elevate your mind tricks to an even higher level in a highly impactful device called a “mind map.” The good news? You don’t even have to be a wizard to take advantage of it.
A thing (or two) about the mind map
Well, then: what’s a mind map? A mind map graphically represents how our minds process information. It’s a visual tool for analyzing, comprehending, synthesizing, and creating new ideas. (Cool, right?)
Many people use the term mind map, but its origins lie in Tony Buzan’s The Mind Map Book, published in 1993. That means mind mapping isn’t just a flashy career design trend or fad; teams have used the device to create real change in organizations for almost 30 years.
Key principles of the mind map technique
Like any other technique, mind mapping has changed and improved over the past three decades. However, some key original principles and concepts still hold this technique together. They include:
A central focal point
Every single mind-map begins at the center. This central focal point can either be a picture, a single keyword, an idea, or even a question mark.
A unique keyword
Every mind map has a couple of unique keywords associated with the central idea or focal point.
You’ll be limited by keywords, but every mind map can have an unlimited number of associated sub-keywords.
These lines branch out from the central idea to the association (or keywords) and sub-associations (or sub-keywords), showing their relationships or logical flow.
Color and images
Color plays a crucial role in creating a distinction between the various flow of ideas in a mind map. Pictures visualize your ideas, making them easily comprehensible.
How do you create a mind map? Some ideas
Drowning in the complexities of your next design project? Feel like you don’t know where to start? Create a mind map.
Here, a step-by-step process of mind mapping. To begin, you only need a good mind-mapping software (like Freehand!):
1. Place your topic at the center
Write a single keyword as your primary idea, problem, or goal in the center of your mind map. (Or go the extra mile and add an image!)
2. Add keywords
Your central idea has associations. These include your strategy, creative blockers, and arsenal of design techniques. Condense them into a single keyword and join them to your central topic using arciform lines. Limit them to seven keywords.
3. Create sub-keywords or associations
Create sub-associations for your seven keywords. There can be as many sub-associations as you’d like — the limit does not exist!
4. Play with the text, font, and alignment
Use as many colors as you like to coordinate your lines, keywords, diagram, etc. Vary the text size, too, to add more zest to your mind map. You can even make the text bigger as you approach your central idea.
Why mind map?
Designers, product, engineering team members and other creative collaborators can benefit from mind mapping. Here’s why:
It helps you store information
Think about how many disorganized clothes versus folded clothes you can fit in a suitcase. Mind maps structure and order information, expanding your memory’s capacity by streamlining information retrieval.
It encourages creativity
Sometimes your creative juices need a kickstart. A mind map visually produces a free associative flow between ideas, stimulating your creativity.
It simplifies information
Mind maps organize your brain’s complexities in a visual format, making your project easy to comprehend.
Start mapping today with free mind map software
Want to get your creative juices flowing? Our mind-mapping software has you covered.
With Freehand, breaking down your design projects, research and development, and collaboration into intuitive diagrams, flowing ideas, and associations has never been easier. The best part? You can use it right now, for free.