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Research Question Mindmap Experiment

My project team is in the beginning stages of running some in-home research interviews right now, so I’ve been preparing the questions we want to ask and the activities we might want to try. I brainstormed, wrote lots of ideas down on stickies, asked my teammates about big themes we wanted to cover, and then carefully wrote up the top questions in a nice big list. But then I realized - the list format is really pretty unhelpful. In a good research interview, you don’t follow the list from top to bottom, you jump from topic to topic as each come up. At best you use your list to refer back to in quick glances, to remind yourself of what you need to touch on.

I asked myself, what if these questions were in an easy-to-glance-at-format, with the big ideas clearly shown, and perhaps linked in an organic way? What if the questions looked like a conversation instead of a survey? So I created a branching mind map of the same concepts in my original list. After a few false starts, I focused on three things:

  1. Use one- or two-word concepts, not full sentences
  2. De-emphasize the details, since they’re there as reminders only
  3. Create a landscape with color and placement that us visual thinkers can internalize easily

Here’s (structurally) what it looks like right now:


Over the next two weeks my team will using it as a reference during our interviews. It’s definitely not meant to be a stand-alone document, but I’m interested in seeing how it helps us. It might even be good as a worksheet to jot down notes, or a review tool to document where the conversation went. What do you think?


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