Design: Mind mapping

Another technique that is used to generate ideas is mind mapping. A mind map is a sketch or drawing that allows you to identify all the factors that need to be taken into account when developing a solution to a design brief. The name of the product or service appears at the center of the mind map and each of the solutions and other factors are placed around it. The map can then be progressively expanded as more detail is added.

Here's a simple example of a mind map created to examine the different ways of transporting materials across a swamp:

There are a number of advantages of using a mind map to generate ideas and to understand the relationship between them. These include:

  • The design brief (or design problem) appears in the centre of the map and it's thus very easy to see how all of the potential solutions and any other factors relate to it
  • The links that exist between solutions and other factors can be immediately recognised
  • The map can be easily grasped without having to read a lot of words
  • It's easy to extend a map or add more information to it
  • A mind map can help to stimulate thought and aid understanding
  • It's often easier and faster to create a mind map than spend a lot of time putting your ideas in writing!

How to create a mind map:

  • You will need a large sheet of paper (ideally A3 or larger) and some coloured felt-tip pens or markers
  • Start by writing down a short phrase that describes the design brief or states the design problem. This should be placed in a oval shape in the centre of the sheet
  • Add thick lines radiating from the oval (as many as are necessary) corresponding to
  • each main solution
  • Print the name of the solution above the line
  • Keep on extending the map (moving outwards from the centre) in order to show all
  • the detail

 In order to make your mind map more useful you can:

  • Use different colours to distinguish the lines leading to each main solution and each sub-factor
  • Use pictures, arrows and notes to provide more information
  • Make the map look clear and attractive. That way, people will remember it!

Finally, here's an example of a mind mind that incoporates pictures to make it look more attractive and to convey additional information to the reader. Can you say what the creator of the map had in mind when he or she made the map?



  Copyright 2002 Mike Tooley - All rights reserved.