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Mind Mapping Templates and Tools For User Researchers

Use this powerful and flexible diagramming method to add organization and creativity to your UX research practice.

For user experience (UX) researchers, drawing, sketching, and otherwise doodling can be a powerful way to break creative blocks and organize processes. It can be a powerful collaboration method, especially for those whose learning style is more visual.

The mind map is a popular and time-tested example of this approach. Adding it to your research workflows can spur creativity, push you past blockages, and help keep projects on-track. Below you’ll find everything needed to start using this approach, including:

  1. Definitions and core components
  2. Where mind maps fit into UX research
  3. Templates to get you started
  4. Tools to take your mapping further

What is mind mapping?

According to Tony Buznan, one of mind mapping’s early evangelists, it is a visual and graphic thinking method that allows for creative exploration through organic branching. This approach supports a variety of use cases, from high-level strategic brainstorming to practical-and-tactical planning.

“The clue to the Mind Map’s effectiveness lies in its dynamic shape and form. As the Mind Map shoots out from the center with curved lines, symbols, words, colors and images, it reveals itself as a totally natural and organic structure.” 
“Mind Maps mimic the myriad synapses and connections of our brain cells, reflecting the way we ourselves are created and connected. Mind Maps also mimic the natural world’s communication structures – witness the veins of a leaf, the branches of a tree or the blood’s circulatory system.” ~Tony Buznan

Components of a mind map

Mind maps are typically composed of three elements: 

  1. A central idea grounds the mind map. All nodes and branches flow from it. This could be an image or a word and can represent a goal, idea, or problem space.
  2. Basic ordering ideas (or first-level branches) are higher-level ideas and concepts flowing from the central idea. They are discrete and independent from one another, although all relate to the central idea in some way.
  3. Branches flow from the basic ordering ideas and allow for more exploration and nesting of ideas and concepts. There is no limit to how many branches and subsequent ideation can occur.

So long as these core components are present, a mind map can take nearly any shape or form, making it a powerful, flexible, and accessible way to organize thinking and create.

an illustration of a mind map
The “laws” of a mind map, as drawn by Tony Buzan.

Using mind maps in UX research

There are several ways to use mind mapping across the user research lifecycle.


Mind mapping is particularly useful at the start of research projects. Use it to brainstorm ideas, summarize desk research or inventory possible methodological approaches to a problem or opportunity. The nice thing about this tool is that there’s no “minimum number of players” required; mind mapping can be conducted solo or with multiple stakeholders, offering an engaging way to align on goals before starting fieldwork.


The focus on smaller, bite-sized concepts and ideas makes mind mapping perfect for project planning, where it can help you work out all the steps needed to accomplish a task—without getting bogged down with order and steps. 

A mind map is also useful for planning specific research methods, such as interviews or surveys—again, the organic format can help some feel more free to explore new question types or ways of uncovering insights.


Creating research prompts that are clear, widely-understood, and accessible for a range of participants is not easy. Words have multiple meanings, phrasing can unintentionally lead participants, and very often our users do not feel comfortable stopping for clarification.

With a mind map, the central idea—and maybe a few basic ordering ideas—are set by the researcher and then given to the participant to complete. In this way, it can serve as a kind of tree test or card sort exercise, but with more creative control given to the participant.

For example, a mind map might be introduced into the middle of a moderated interview to generate a sense of how well a customer knows or uses a specific product. Or maybe a mind map could be used to co-create a better solution to a pain point.

However it’s used, a mind map can be a data collection artifact that gives participants more control and offers them flexibility in describing their experiences—unlocking potentially unknown insights.


Facing a mountain of interview transcripts or open-ended survey data and not sure how to begin coding? A mind map is a useful way to begin organizing qualitative research data. Maps could be created by participants, by question, or even by a specific theme. 

In this way, a mind map can support a grounded theory approach to analysis, where findings and insights are derived from the data itself (as opposed to pre-determined tests).

a screenshot of a linkedin post about mind mapping
Mind mapping can be a helpful UX design tool.

17 mind map templates

1. Classic mind map from Figma

screenshot of figma mind map

Perfect for your first mind map, this template can work for a variety of use cases.

2. Whiteboard mind map from Canva

screenshot of canva mind map

This template uses colored stickies and is perfect for real-time team collaboration.

3. Market research mind map from Venngage

screenshot of venngage mind map

Using a top-down format, this map has the core phases of research pre-populated.

4. Project management mind map from gdoc

screenshot of gdoc mind map

This template ensures all bases are covered when launching your next project.

5. Competitive analysis mind map from creately

screenshot of creately mind map

Use your competitors’ designs to fuel your next innovation with this template.

6. Brainstorming mind map template from Miro

screenshot of miro mind map

This template uses a traditional all-branches design to promote creative ideation.

7. Customer journey mind map from Visme

screenshot of visme mind map

Mind maps are another way to visualize customer journeys. Try this one for a change.

8. Topic ideation mind map from Mural

screenshot of mural mind map

Need for a time-based team ideation activity? This template is perfect for your next sync.

9. Story writing mind map 

screenshot of story mind map

Whether it’s a user story or your next great novel, this slide template has you covered.

10. Product launch mind map from smartdraw

screenshot of smartdraw mind map

Keep bigger product launches on-track and on-time with this structured template.

11. Product design mind map from edraw

screenshot of edraw mind map

Create a complete product design plan with this color-coded bubble template.

12. Strategy mind map from Genially

screenshot of genially mind map

From career decisions to annual planning, this template takes a 10,000 ft view.

13. Product design mind map from Milanote

screenshot of milanote mind map

This template is perfect for hardware designers, centralizing fit, finish, and features.

14. Business plan mind map from Biggerplate

screenshot of biggerplate mind map

Set your next business venture up for success from the start with this template.

15. AI-assisted mind map from Notion

screenshot of notion mind map

Complete two prompts and AI will help this template fit your specific use case.

16. Interview prep mind map from Mindomo

screenshot of mindomo mind map

Start your next job interview feeling prepared and confident with this template.

17. UX/UI product design roadmap mind map

screenshot of ux/ui product design mind map

Need help moving from ideation to prototyping? This template covers the steps.

Tools for creating mind maps

Most digital white boarding or collaboration tools such as Miro, Lucid, Figma, and Mural can support a basic mind map form, but if you’re looking for more specialized support and features for creating, maintaining, and sharing mind maps, here are tools worth exploring.

  1. Ayoa
  2. coggle
  3. FreeMind
  4. mindmeister
  5. Mindomo
  6. Mindmup
  7. MindView
  8. simplemind
  9. smartdraw
  10. xmind
Mind maps can be persuasive share-ables.

Looking for more free research templates?

We have even more free templates to support your UX research workflows:

Ben Wiedmaier
Senior Content Marketing Manager
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