Thought Organization for Graphic Designers
When most people look for graphic design tutorials, they expect a slew of quick lessons on altering images or manipulating vectors, but before any designer fires up her favorite program and starts working on a client’s project, her ideas should be organized by thoughtful planning.
Working as a freelance designer for over 6 years, I’ve acquired a large collection of clients. As a result, I have to balance a dizzying assortment of projects at any given time. When starting a new project, I’d find it increasingly difficult to separate and recall the minute details of each client’s open projects. That is, until this week, when I rediscovered mind mapping.
According to Michael J. Gleb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, mind mapping is thought organization process inspired by da Vinci’s method of taking notes. Rather than listing information in a linear fashion, mind maps utilize color, grouping, and images to help you develop ideas and recall your thoughts at a later time.
Mind mapping has helped me plan client projects, remember all the small details, and it has kept me from confusing information from one project with another project. I’ve found mind mapping to be an incredibly useful tool for design projects, which is why I decided to start of my set off graphic design tutorials with a tutorial on mind mapping.
How to make a mind map
STEP 1: Write the name of your project in the middle of a blank page. For this example, I am using a fictitious project called the “Happy Fun Time” website.
STEP 2: Add the different categories or parts around the project’s name and connect these parts to the project name using lines or arrows. Now the fun part: you can include images that help you remember details of your project at a glance.
In this example, I’m treating each main page of the site as a separate category. The client said they want a party hat displayed on the About Us page, so I added a little illustration to help me remember this.
STEP 3: Add subcategories to the parts of the project where they are needed. You can add images at this point too.
STEP 4: Include small details you do not want to forget. Remember to use images if they help you!
For example, say the client wants to feature balloon animals at the top of the balloon section, you can draw a little image to help you remember this.
STEP 5: Post your mind map in an easy-to-see or easy-to-access spot, while this client project is open.
Why use a mind map?
Online mind mapping resources