Guest Post: Using MindManager to Plan a Website

Filed Under Mindjet

by
March 21, 2011

This post was written by Lindy Hoppough of Chabin Concepts.  Logo_Green_Gray_300opt

Have you ever found yourself scratching your head at…

  • A website so fragmented you wonder if you really found everything?
  • A needless web page with two lines of text?
  • Information buried so deep you can’t remember how you got there?

At Chabin Concepts we often serve as the intermediary between website developers focused on programming and clients who can’t quite picture how their information will flow on a website. While content management systems make it easier for the average person to rearrange web pages on the fly, it saves time and money to plan ahead. MindManager is the tool we use to create site maps at the beginning of a web design project.

How we use MindManager

We could use any number of flow-charting applications, but MindManager’s extra features give our clients a more complete picture:

  • Showing Examples. To help clients visualize recommended features, we insert  hyperlinks to existing web pages and attach screen shots.
  • Testing Menu Structure. Here’s a simple test to see if you got the menus right: collapse the mindmap to just the top level; then ask “innocent bystanders” which heading they would click to find various topics. If too many guess wrong, rename or reorganize and try again.
  • Describing Content. We use the Notes feature to rough out some content. This allows us test our outline and identify gaps that need filling.
  • Showing “Related Info.” Sometimes, the same content applies to more than one menu item, and the website incorporates “related info” links to connect these separated pages. We use Relationship lines to show these connections.

Here are a few screen shots to illustrate how we use MindManager:

Each box represents a page on the proposed website. Hyperlinks and attachments provide examples. Relationship lines show how  “related info” links might be used in the site.

Sample Site Map: Each box represents a page on the proposed website. Hyperlinks and attachments provide examples. Relationship lines show how “related info” links might be used in the site.

Testing Menus: Where would you look for “Demographics?” What about “Transportation?” Collapsing the site map helps us test the structure of the site.

Testing Menus: Where would you look for “Demographics?” What about “Transportation?” Collapsing the site map helps us test the structure of the site.

Notes: By describing content in notes, we discover we don’t need a page—or we need more pages—to adequately cover a topic.

Notes: By describing content in notes, we discover we don’t need a page—or we need more pages—to adequately cover a topic.

Now that the MindManager Player can be exported to Acrobat 9 or Flash, we can even send clients a working, interactive site map to evaluate prior to web development. Chabin Concepts is a consulting firm serving economic development clients, but these tips are equally suitable for creating site maps for any website.

If you’re interested in taking a look at a sample site map we’ve built using MindManager go to www.MapsforThat.com and you will be able to view and download the map template we used.

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  • http://filsupport.com/web-design-outsource/ Web Design Outsource

    Very informative. Glad i was able to read your article, learned a lot from it.

  • http://twitter.com/garywong_BC Gary Wong

    Very nice… I’m trying out this template right now !  #mindjet

  • http://flashsitedesigners.com/ Endytroll

    Hi! Thank you for sharing :)  very interesting article!

  • Martin

    I Like the usage here for new sites. I need to come from the other direction though. I would love to import a google sitemap into mindmanager and use the resulting mindmap as the starting point for analysis . I have searched but cant see a tool that does it

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajwilcox Andrew Wilcox

    Lindy,

    Great example of how MindManager has been used by many people over the years.

    After hiding the Search branch (I guess that’s an element of the home page or all pages) in your map, I could export via the Static or Dynamic Outline template to create a draft web site in MindManager for Windows. Some web developers use this to give their clients another level of understanding of the design before developing their web sites in other applications. They can flick through the proposal on a draft web server. Some like me have developed many web sites using customisations of the MindManager web export templates directly from the map.

    Have you included maps as navigation pages in your completed web sites?

  • Brett Lutchman

    A week ago I had tweeted something similar to this article on Twitter.
    Up until now, MindManager has been the most effective tool that I’ve used to deconstruct a site audi or to develop a new site through JAD mind-mapping sessions and taxonomy and nomenclature exercises. Not only do I use MindManager because it is extremely fast and efficient, not only do I use it to help display concepts through design schematics, I use it because it is the most boundless and robust tool out there in terms of not only constructing site and app designs and process flows- but because it allows groups to think freely and openly as they converge collaboratively on the diagram in focus.

    The endless and seamless ways a use is able to create/ destroy, drag n drop, have ideas triggered throughout the thought process allows for a more liberal and thought-provoking team session that produces real results and always provides room for more thoughts due to the maps ease of use and scalability.

    • parkertrewin

      Thanks for the props. Glad you are getting results from Mindjet!