Mind Maps

Using Mind Maps in Software Testing

There are many ways to create a successful mind map for testing an application, feature or product. In this blog post, we will look through a couple of ways to help document, execute, report and collaborate my testing efforts.

I have found mind maps allow me to move really fast to get a collection of ideas. I am then able to use these to easily share between team members to collect the information I need from them, and to ensure everyone is collaborating on what is being tested. It also allows me to have quick simple test design, and test report, so when asked by a product owner, I can sit down and go through what was tested and why.

It took me a while to get use to using mind maps, but now it is my “go to” when starting to look at new features and applications. If you have given it a go before and don’t think it is for you, stick with it for a while and hopefully the post below will help get you started on the right track.

You will need to find the right mind map tool to use, there are many options out there. A couple that I like to use are MindMup and XMind, at the time of writing this MindMup 2.0 has just been released. I also use Google Docs and find MindMup integrates well inside Google Docs.


Links to Mind Mapping Tools


Using Mnemonics Technique

Mind Maps and Mnemonics, if you are unsure what Mnemonics are then follow the link to my recent blog post on Mnemonics.  A good way to start creating your mind map is to start by adding in our mnemonics, mnemonics that are useful for what you are testing. SFDPOT is a good one for model and types of areas we want to look at when identifying test ideas. HICCUPS can be used to gather a set of known truths about a product (Oracles).


Mnemonics Mind Maps

Gathering well thought out, detailed information is important, using mnemonics can help prompt ideas on areas to look at.

It is important that you keep changing and adding to your mind map. Gathering information can spark new ideas and areas of interest, keep adding these to your Mind Map.


Using Touring Technique

A tour is the exploration of a product that is organised around a theme, you decide on a theme, then navigate / tour around the application to document your theme findings.

Think of touring as functionally similar to a structured training approach. Tours are excellent for surfacing a collection of ideas, that you can then explore in depth, one at a time.

Let’s have a look at how we would add this to our mind map.


Touring Mind Maps

Using a Freestyle approach

You can always use a freesyle approach. Depending on what I am testing I use this approach quite often.
I look at the different areas of the new functionality, then I start adding sub projects to my mind map and expanding on it.  Below shows a simple structure of projects with sub projects, I then expand on this and add my heuristics to FirstName TextBox etc (i.e null, string to long, letters with special characters.)   


Free Style Mind Maps

Final Thoughts

  • How do you use Mind Maps?
  • What positives and negatives have you seen when using them?
  • Have you got any hot tips that could help others?  
  • If you have a blog on mind mapping, share the link in the comments section.


Article Links

Mind Map Resource – Ministry of Testing

2011 – Mind Mapping 101 –  Darren McMillan

Mind Map Resource – Test Insane

2014 – Using mind mapping software as a visual test management tool – Aaron Hodder


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  • le notre

    December 17, 2015

    Nice summary which sums up quickly most ways in which I am using the Mindmap tool. The biggest challenge I think is to handle the structure in an understandable way, especially if other team members start grabbing and updating information in it as well.

    In my work I am mostly using Mindmaps to:
    – Quickly collect information and feedback when I am exploring a new feature,
    – List the various test ideas and test cases I have already performed, with the results associated: Problem, all good, question, doc to update, etc,
    – Keep a straightforward list of all remaining actions or questions I have for various team members while testing a feature.

    – Using icons is visually efficient to visualize the work in progress,
    – In the past I had positive feedback from Product Owner who did not originally ask to see any test coverage (they relied on the team to provide quality work), who found appealing the test coverage summary I had presented by Mindmap after performing a list of regression check (therefore requiring either a green tick or a red cross for the pass and fail, it can not really apply to testing new features)

    They can be too much a “Map of the Mind” and be hard to understand by other team members

    **Have you got any hot tips that could help others? **

    If other team members need to grab information from or add information to the mindmap, ie there is a need for collaboration, the mindmap needs to have an understandable structure and icon legend.
    For example, when testing a new ticket or US, you may create a new mindmap branch bearing the name of the ticket title. It will allow other testers who help out to test the same ticket to easily find and update the information.

    Also it is easy to create lots of branches, but harder to organize them, which should be done before: mnemonics are a good way of having a pre-organized structure to collect the information.


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