Jennifer Coffey

Grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and enjoy!

A Mind Map for a Mind Map

“We shouldn’t abbreviate the truth but rather get a new method of presentation.” 

― Edward Tufte

Sometimes gathering thoughts and generating designs can become difficult when your brain isn’t flowing with new ideas. There are many different ideation techniques to help get your mind back on track. 

From brainstorming to worst idea, these techniques allow the user to come up with ideas and solve problems. Another example of an ideation technique is mind mapping. A mind map is a visual tool to draw out, expand, and break down ideas into smaller parts. 

How Do They Work?

A mind map is a very simple tool. In their book Universal Methods of Design, Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington talk about a few manageable steps to creating a mind map. 

First, identify a theme or question for the mind map. Then, place the theme or question and draw it in the middle of a piece of paper.

Next, draw extensions from the theme/question and write your primary connections. These are important and broad topics are key elements to the overall theme/ question. 

Lastly, keep breaking down each element into smaller pieces. If some topics connect, draw lines connecting them and try to break them down even more. 

Why Are They Important?

Not only does mind mapping help generate ideas and get your mind flowing, but it also allows the user to get creative in a fast, easy, and inexpensive way. 

Once a mind map is complete, the user now has a whole map of detailed, organized, and clean set of information to work with. 


Online Tools

There are many online tools to help with creating mind maps. This map is simple yet effective for breaking down the information.

Visual and Effective

This mind map starts with a question and branches out multiple different solutions.


The combination of illustrations, color, and subcategories makes it easy for the user to comprehend the information.

Creating a Mind Map

After looking at some examples of mind maps and reading about different ideation techniques, I combined the two elements into one. 

The whole process of creating a mind map was very relaxing. I looked at techniques like brainstorming (braindumpbrainwalkbrainwrite), sketching (storyboardrough), worst idea strategies, mind mappingcollage, and what consists of ideation. These are just a few ideation techniques that designers can use, but these are some of my personal favorites.

I started in the middle and made the decision to color-code each main category. This made it easier to keep track of information. After choosing the five main techniques, I worked my way around the map filling in more categories and trying to break everything down into smaller pieces of information.

After seeing more examples online, I decided to add some definitions for clarity. While writing, it also gave me more time to come up with more subcategories and inspired me to write more.

As I worked my way around the map, I found it a lot easier to write. After referring to my notes, I found a rhythm and completed the map a lot sooner than I anticipated.

After putting in all the information, I went back and added some background images. I was going to add smaller images as well, but I found them to be distracting, and they didn’t add anything of value to the map. 


Overall, I had a lot of fun making this map. I can see how writing information in this style could spark ideas or point out strengths and weaknesses. I would absolutely recommend this technique to anyone stuck in a rut or looking for a way to get inspired. 

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