Thank you to all who commented and made suggestions in the “How to improve Mind-mapping.Org” competition. I will be acting on many and have commented below.
Meanwhile, here are the winners : Wojciech Korsak, Andrew Wilcox, Paf, Ivan J. Andrade and Waveydavey001.
My decisions were based on the practicality for me to make the changes suggested and, where more than one person made a suggestion, the first one to make it.
I have emailed the winners asking for the nominated name and email address for the licenses.
To help me analyse responses, I made a couple of mind maps (click for larger version):
Social group or forum
Proposer: Wojciech Korsak (and many other commenters’ suggestions can be implemented with a forum)
This is a great idea and will help make many of the other ideas a reality. With a Mind-mapping.Org forum, you could:
- ask questions about specific software,
- look for advice on data interchange between different mapping software,
- share insights,
- share success stories,
- present case studies,
- process management
- share experiences,
- share tutorials,
- network with other mappers,
- ask how Mac and Windows versions of the same software compare.
I made a small step in this direction when I introduced Vic’s Picks and allowed comments under entries for each software app, but I think a forum will be a more general-purpose solution. I shall be looking for good free software. For me, a key element will be good threading of replies, because that’s where I feel most forum software falls down.
Forum software recommendations, anyone?
Vic’s Picks software names
Proposers: Andrew Wilcox, Joachim
I’d got so used to the fact that I had to press a button to see the details that I forgot what a nuisance it was. But I like to keep the images clean, so Andrew’s suggestion to have a button that opens all titles (and I’ll add one to close them all, or toggle) is my preference, if I can make it work.
Ease of use
Proposers: Christopher Spence, eadile, ElChivo, miro23
Mind-mapping.Org has grown, Topsy-like, over its five-year life span. And it shows! Especially on the front page. As several people have commented, ease-of-use suffers and it’s now time for some re-organization.
It started as a very simple list, then I immediately had many requests for screenshots, then a suggestion that I should make it possible to filter the software shown according to type, OS and date added. Then I added a blog, some new areas like interoperability of software, the MindMapSearch, on-line software and the library of libraries with its focused search. And most recently Vic’s Picks.
Christopher Spence commented that the main page was busy. I shall rebuild the top of that page around a mind map similar to the one that I made for the post announcing this competition, with links in the image map.
Miro23 suggested improving the layout and design of the master list including the search/filter forms. I’m not sure how, as I don’t know what the difficulty is at present. Maybe I’ll add more explanation, but it already has multiple selection combo boxes for map type and OS, as well as date and current / historical selection.
Joachim proposed having only one list. This is what we have and why:
- The Master List contains everything I know of (bar some waiting on my To Do list). It is intended to be an authoritative and complete list including (when selected) historical and defunct software for reference.
- The second list, Vic’s Picks, is for the general user who wants to browse through a gallery of significant mapping software – significant because it is either well-known and popular or offers some special capability. Each entry in Picks links to the corresponding Master List entry for more screenshots and more information. This proved a popular arrangement when I introduced it.
- The Full List is a simple list by product name and publisher name of current products with links to the original sites and is a hang-0ver from the very early design, but I don’t think it helps to delete it. I use it myself occasionally. There is a similar list for historical products.
In my view, going to one list would be a step backwards. Joachim suggests moving to the Vick’s Picks format for all, though he also likes the blog style. But in either case there would be much less information available (and only one screenshot which would be very limiting – people love screenshots). And crucially, there would be nowhere to go to avoid the rarely-encountered mapping software.
He makes a good suggestion to “include a rating by scope. For example how suitable is the software to be creative, manage projects, learn and study, information management …” I will think about it, but with nearly 300 current products, I could not find time in this, my hobby (as the original post says), to evaluate them all. But in the introduction to Vic’s Picks, I wrote that it is “… a place for crowdsourcing: Here you can mark your favourite software and comment about your own experience of it in use” so I believe we’re mostly covered on this suggestion.
Joachim also commented on the navigation. This could be improved and I’ll look for ways around the fact that the site is based around the software database and two WordPress blogs. I shall have to play with templates to get consistent navigation.
Christopher Spence suggested removing the need to register to comment. I changed the setting to not require registration, but test comments I left disappeared, and I received no moderation email so I that’s worse. I am investigating and will change this again when I have an answer. Later I may enable Disqus, as he also suggests.
Focus on education
I do not have any special knowledge of educational matters, but do have long experience of using mind maps in business. So this is a suggestion I would have difficulty following. I wonder why the focus should be there when mapping in the classroom is so extensively covered in education sites elsewhere?
I like to cover all types of mapping and visual information organisation software, and for me learning is a minor use of mind mapping.
Have a mobile-friendly style as well
This is desirable, but would be an enormous task for me. The site is so graphics intensive that optimising the CSS for a very small screen would be tough. I will contemplate how it might be done, but later.
My thanks to everyone who came up with ideas for improvement and helped me understand what they found most useful. Not everyone could be a winner, but I hope that those who did win an iMindMap Ultimate licence find it useful.
I’ll be working on these suggestions in the coming weeks.
If you’re on Twitter and tweet about mapping topics,
tweet me — I’d love to know and follow you.