News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Biggerplate Continued: Andrew Wilcox on Finding Maps Online

(And once again, please refer to The Mindmap Blog's "Mindmapping Thought Leaders Share Best Practices in London" for each speaker's video.)

Andrew Wilcox from Cabre had a short but interesting presentation. He was curious about how easy it was for people to find mind maps online. So he did a little test. The test was a good example of how one can occasionally step outside of one's own point of reference to see what the world looks like to others.

Image from

Why do bank robbers rob banks?
Andrew's unstated assumption was that it's pretty easy for people immersed in mind mapping to find all the maps they want by searching online. Like the bank robber, we know where to look (such as Biggerplate). We know common file extensions. We know specific terminology that might increase our chances of success. So it's not surprising that we may think that it's fairly easy for anyone to find maps online. Alas, not so. And therein lays the rub.

Andrew's Empirical Examination
Andrew described his test: First, he mapped a local meeting. Then he posted the map on Biggerplate, on Mindjet's "Maps for That" site, and to his own Conference Reaction site. He downloaded some tool that let's people see what their sites look like to Google. And then he did a Google search for the map. Here's what he found:

  1. Google itself sees the file name. That's it.
  2. When it searches "Maps for That," it sees pretty much nothing too because of the content management system Mindjet uses (according to Andrew).
  3. Biggerplate was slightly better, showing an outline of the map contents.
  4. And when Google it searched Conference Reaction, it looked pretty much like the page he had uploaded, complete with text and the map image.

Image from Warrior Fitness

Curious Results Indeed!.
His conclusion wasn't "See what a great site I have," but "How could the results be so different? Why are they so different." He tried to correlate the search results with each site's page rank. But there didn't seem to be any clear correlation.

He then did another search using terms he thought an average person looking for a map might use: visual project management." The highest result an actual map got was the #12 result for Mindjet, but the link was to a page that wasn't exactly educational--more like a landing page for shopping. None of the mind mapping software companies in the room--and no other such vendors he could think of--were in the top 100 results.

The Challenge
The point of his presentation, as borne out by his little test, was that it seems to be very hard for the average person to stumble across an actual mind map of anything--unless they know exactly what they're looking for and probably where to find it.

And he left that as a bit of unfinished business for the companies represented at the Biggerplate conference: How can we as mind mapping experts make it easier for people to find maps online?

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