Researching any new idea can be a long, tedious process. If you’re anything like me, you usually have 10+ tabs open in each window, jumping from one idea to the next, trying to tie them up into one cohesive project.
If you aren’t organizing your research in a way that can be replicated in any situation, or even be used by other people on your team, you aren’t really doing the best job. Here, we’ll show you how to incorporate a mind map online tool into your research to ensure all your ideas are organized, easily accessible, and understandable.
When Are Mind Maps Used?
Most commonly, mind maps online are used as study aids, research aids, brainstorming and problem-solving tools, or even as presentation methods. They are used in project management, software development, marketing, and any other business areas.
They’re easy to use, especially for collaboration among remote team members.
But, let’s go back to research and all the steps you should take when using a mind map online in such a way.
How to Use Mind Maps While Researching
Step 1: Start with the Main Idea
Since you’re investigating a specific issue or a subject, this should be your first step and the center of your mind maps. Put your main idea into the center of your map, and start building from there.
Let’s say you’re working on a new software for reading, put that in the middle of the map. Then build the branches around it.
Pro tip: use images, colors, videos, gifs, and other media tools available in the mind map online. Making your process more visual will help you think of new ideas, and keep you focused.
Step 2: Identify Key Sub-Groups
First branches coming from your main idea should be focus sub-groups. Each group should have a different focus, and they should all connect to the main idea. Let’s look at our software example again.
In this case, you might have sub-groups related to customer research, industry trends, and competitive analysis.
Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than five sub-groups, but it really depends on what you’re researching.
Pro tip: use different colors for each group to differentiate them in a visual way.
Step 3: Add More Ideas
Each sub-group will probably branch into more subcategories. Look into each sub-group, think about what they represent, and write down any related ideas.
For customer research in our example you could add field research, beta testing, focus groups, etc.
Pro tip: when adding subcategories to your sub-groups try using keywords instead of writing full sentences. This way, your mind map online will be easier to read and understand.
Step 4: Get Into the Details
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, you need to dig deeper. Think of this part as the brainstorming session where there are no bad ideas. Write down anything that comes to mind for each subcategory.
That’s just one of the handy features of online mind maps – you can edit, rearrange them, and add new subcategories or sub-groups at any point.
You can expand on your field research by figuring out exactly who you would be surveying, how will you identify the participants, how will you do these interviews, etc.
Pro tip: these details will uncover various tasks that need to be done by different people who are working with you, so you can start assigning the issues to team members right away.
Even though we focused on software development, mind map online can be used for any type of research, or any type of project. It’s the beauty of this software – having the ability to use it no matter what is your key field of work.