How to Improve Your Research with Mind Mapping

I have found that as a UXer developing a research script that uncovers the unknown areas of our product can be difficult or daunting. In a fast moving enterprise environment we have had as little as 15 mins to talk with users. How are you supposed to get good information in 15 mins? In short, ask better questions. How do I get better questions? Brainstorm them.

What is a mind map?

Mind mapping is a brainstorming technique in which you explore and organize hierarchical information usually in a branching radial fashion. It is great for tangential thinking and recording large ontologies.

How to use it for generating research questions?

  1. Start with your topic in the middle
  2. From the middle create your first layer of question bubbles. Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How
  3. Starting with one question bubble and start writing questions that begin with that word. Do not erase or edit. The goal is to generate as many questions off of that one word as possible. Some or most of these won’t feel right but for now we are trying to uncover the ideas. For example, the question who could bring up:
  4. When you exhaust your brain with one word move to the next one
  5. When you have worked on every question word you will have dozens of questions. Grab a different color pen, marker or a highlighter and begin to circle your best questions. Which of these will help validate the core value proposition of your client? Which questions are necessary for your understanding of the problem. Which questions are people afraid to ask or blow off when brought up.
  6. Write these questions down in a list and organize them by theme or progression.
  7. Cut your script in half. Get to the heart of the issue. Even among your best questions there can be redundancy. Get rid of it.
  8. Go do your research!

Written by

A UX Designer in Atlanta focused on mentoring, modular UI and using python as a research method.

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