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Drawing of a mind map with a central idea at the center and related ideas that branch outwards

Mind mapping example. Click image for full-size image.

Mind mapping refers to a technique that designers and engineers use to express and generate ideas. All that mind mapping really is, however, is a way to get all of the ideas in your head down onto paper. There is no right or wrong way to mind map. It is simply a visual representation of the thoughts in your head, and it often looks like organized chaos.

Why Mind Map?

Mind mapping helps you to release all of the ideas in your head and gives you the opportunity to see those ideas visually. It is a fast and simple way to get your creative juices flowing, and the only tools you need are a pen or pencil and your design notebook.

How to Mind Map

To start a mind map, write down one, central idea or theme in the middle of a blank page. All mind maps have this common starting point. Then, stem off of the central idea by writing down anything that comes to your mind when thinking about the idea. You can include drawings, questions, comments, solutions, problems, etc. There are no limits. Simply write down everything that relates to the central theme or anything that enters your mind.

When and What to Mind Map

You can create a mind map at any stage in your design process and for absolutely any purpose. You can mind map at the very beginning before you have even decided what problem you are going to solve. You can also mind map to generate possible solutions to your problem or to identify different types of users for your project. Mind map whenever you feel the need to empty the thoughts in your head or whenever you feel stuck during the design process.

Mind Map Examples

Free science fair projects.