I’m a huge fan of mind maps. Because they don’t confine you to just one direction—down—they’re a great way to generate an outline for a single post, an ebook, or an entire website. But they can also do so much more. Here are five of my favorite ways to use mind maps to help build a successful website.
#1—Outline Your Website
When you’re just starting a website, or any big project, you don’t know exactly what you need—this is the perfect situation for a mind map. Take your core subject and write it in the middle of the mind map and then start exploring.
If you’ve never created a mind map, draw a branch off your core subject for each of the closely related subjects your website will need to cover. Draw a branch off of each of those first-level subjects for the subjects related to them which you want to cover. Continue branching and sub-branching until you have a good grasp on your topic.
Although I usually draw my mind maps on paper—I like tactile feedback—for a big project like a website, I prefer to use a software mind mapping tool so I can hide and delete branches. This is especially useful when I’m brainstorming a new website and I don’t know exactly what direction my research might take me.
For example, I might start out thinking a new website is about mens shoes but, after time spent mind mapping the related subjects, I might discover I really want the website to be about replacement dress shoe soles.
#2—Keyword Research With Mind Maps
Although many online keyword research tools do a great job of suggesting keywords related to your general topic, simply clicking through results is not always the most efficient way to do research—and letting a computer guess what you want is always a bit risky. (Have you used mobile phone autocorrect?)
Once again, I like to use a mind map to help guide my keyword research. I write my starting keyword phrase in the middle and create a branch whenever a keyword phrase strikes my fancy. If I pursue that keyword phrase, I create a sub-branch, and so on.
I typically use paper for this to keep my computer monitor free for research, so whenever I wander too far from my original keyword phrase, I grab a fresh sheet of paper and start a new mind map—but I save my old mind maps in case I decide to backtrack.
Glancing at my mind map is usually enough to give me new keyword ideas, and the mind maps makes it easy for me to pause my research and come back later because looking at the map almost instantly allows me to pick up where I left off.
#3—Mind Maps As Cheap Infographics
If you use software to make mind maps—or you have better handwriting and drawing skills than I do—you can can use mind maps as simple free infographics.
Many subjects can which can be broken down into hierarchical lists can be represented especially well as mind maps. For example, try turning the following very boring list (from Wikipedia) into a mind map:
- Empire Prokaryota
- Kingdom Bacteria
- Empire Eukaryota
- Kingdom Protozoa
- Kingdom Chromista
- Kingdom Plantae
- Kingdom Fungi
- Kingdom Animalia
- H. sapiens
- H. erectus
- H. neanderthalensis
- Empire Prokaryota
It works a lot better visually, doesn’t it?
#4—Mind Maps For Compilation Books
Many websites have published compilation books and ebooks—books that contain various individual blog posts about a single subject combined together into a single work. Sometimes these work really well, and sometimes they don’t—the most important factor is the organization.
Mind maps can help you organize the information from your website. Find a listing of all of the information you have available. Then start creating a mind map using one color ink for the information you have available and another color ink for the information you’ll have to add to make it all fit together well.
For this you want to either use software mind maps or prepare to go through a lot of paper mind map drafts.
#5—Design Your Sales Funnel With Mind Maps
Does your website have an ultimate objective, such as getting visitors to sign up for your mailing list or to buy a product? Then you probably have a sales funnel—a series of links visitors click to get to your sales page.
Putting a Buy Now or Subscribe Now link on every page can work, but you usually need to walk the potential customer or subscriber through a series of steps to get them to agree to give you their credit card number or email address. Mind maps are the perfect tool for you to design the order and content of those steps.
In the middle of your mind map, write your goal. For example: mailing list sign-up.
Now think about where the customer or subscriber will enter their subscription information and put those down as branches. For example: main page, all pages, or sign-up page.
What will convince the customer or subscriber to enter their information? Put those down as sub-branches. For example: mailing list description box, squeeze page, comment form thank you email.
Keep extending the process back even beyond the border of your website. For example, extend sub-sub-branches out to your most common search keywords—this will remind you that certain search keywords may attract the type of people who buy or subscribe and other keywords attract visitors who are useless to you.
When you’ve created your sales funnel mind map, compare it to your statistics to see where you’re losing visitors or where they’re ignoring your sales copy. Those are the areas of your site where a little improvement will create big results—and you found them using a simple mind map.