Whether you are experienced at mind mapping or just starting out; whether you use them occasionally for project meetings or for a range of diagramming needs, you can personalize your mind maps to get them looking just right. Here are some of the features you can use to make your mind maps really stand out.

Use colors

Color can add meaning. Red symbolises things that might be a problem. Green symbolises features that you definitely want to include. Blue represents features that have already been delivered… you get the picture. You can create a 'colour index' for your project so that everyone understands the options and can 'read' the colours at a glance.

iMindQ lets you change the colour of the whole map in a graduated format, with level one topics showing as darker on the map with subsequent levels getting lighter in colour. You can also change the background pattern and the colours of lines and boundaries so you can make it look exactly how you want. Try not to add in too many colours; it's normally better to stick to one or two and use variations on a theme instead of adding in every colour that you possibly can.

Boundaries are a type of box that you use on the mind map to emphasize the relationship between a topic and the relevant subtopics. Essentially, it's drawing a box around a group of topics. Adding a boundary shape draws the eye to this group of topics and again you can use colour to identify them (purple represents Marketing's project requirements etc). You can add a fill colour to make the boundary really stand out and change the line style too. You can also add boundaries within boundaries if you want to highlight a second box inside the first.

Add notes

You might not be able to fit everything that you want to say on to one topic. In fact, the more text you add, the messier your mind map can look, so notes give you a great way to add more detail without making your mind map impossible to read. Once you've added a note, you'll see a note icon appear in the topic so people looking at the mind map will know that there is more to read. You can also format the text of the note to further personalise it, if you want.

Add links

What if what you want to add is better served by linking to a website or intranet page and not by using a note? That's fine too: you can add links to your mind map to send readers off to sources of further information. You could use links for directing readers to:

  • A file
  • A folder
  • An external website
  • An internal (intranet) website
  • Another area of the mind map
  • Another mind map
  • An email address (which you could use to solicit feedback once people have read the map)

Unless it's really obvious, it is a good idea to make the description very clear so that people know what they are clicking and where they will go once they have clicked. Check that all your links open in a new window so they don't stop the mind map from appearing.

Use icons and images

You are probably using mind maps because you know that pictures and visual structuring of data help project team members understand what they have to do. Visual information like this is often easier to process, especially when you are trying to gain consensus on a project. Using icons and images on your mind map gives you another layer of visual content to use. Try to avoid the standard clip art pictures and use images that really are meaningful to your project such as logos, screenshots and photos.

Change the language

If English isn't your first language, check the settings and see if you can change the interface to display in your own language. Why not make things that little bit easier for yourself and your colleagues? You can use iMindQ™, for example, in French, German, and Spanish as well as English so there are plenty of choices for international teams. Changing the default language is also great for spell check!