Creating awesome tech is hard. Sometimes you don’t even know where to start, let alone what to do next.
“You can’t have one brain that knows it all,” explains Darwin Sanoy, Senior Solutions Architect at GitLab. “You need communication and collaboration to work together.”
Product development teams need smart ways to brainstorm and collaborate if they are to continuously come up with and test ideas, fix problems, create cool solutions, and deliver value.
That’s why many product developers use mind maps. This technique helps development and design teams visualize, organize, and communicate their ideas in a clear and structured way. A general idea, such as “features” or “UX design,” is in the middle of the map, and more specific ideas branch out from there.
Unlike everyday note-taking or a disorganized “brain dump” brainstorming session, mind mapping introduces structure and finds connections throughout our thought processes. It’s easy to visualize how the parts relate and come together to form a picture of the whole. This is especially useful for complex, abstract systems like software development projects.
Don’t just take our word for it. Scientific evidence shows that mind mapping helps people remember information, learn new concepts, improve productivity, and make complex ideas easier to understand. For instance, mind mapping software increases productivity by 23% on average.
By making it concrete, mind maps simplify complexity.
Why use Cacoo for brainstorming and collaboration
For streamlined brainstorming and collaboration, developers use mind mapping software like Cacoo for many reasons.
1. Easy to use
This online mind map tool offers an easy-to-use platform, customizable templates, and sharing capabilities.
2. Collaborate from anywhere in real-time
Because Cacoo is a cloud-based, remote and hybrid teams can access their mind maps and collaborate in real-time, no matter where in the world they are. Cacoo’s built-in collaboration tools, such as commenting and live chat, also work towards this end. Users can interact with the mind map, add elements, and observe each other’s edits, all without any lag.
3. Integrates with your existing tools
Developers can also integrate Cacoo with other services to access their data, share their mind maps, and more. From the Microsoft Teams integration to Slack to Google Cloud and everything in between, Cacoo’s integrations are handy for developers who also rely on other platforms to get their job done.
4. Top security
Security is another big concern for developers. Technologists want to be sure that both their intellectual property (IP) and their sensitive data is safe and private.
So how do you use Cacoo’s mind mapping software to facilitate seamless brainstorming and collaboration for product development teams? We’re glad you asked.
Step 1: Create a mind map in Cacoo
We recommend starting with a template. Though it’s possible to start from scratch, it’s faster and easier to get up and running with Cacoo’s Mind Map Template. This template lets users quickly begin adding categories and branches to explore ideas.
Another option is the Brainstorm Diagram Template. This includes a lot of the same functionality as the Mind Map Template, but, instead of going outward in multiple directions, the Brainstorm Diagram Template goes in just one.
Once you’ve picked a template, start by adding topics and subtopics. For our example, we’ve begun brainstorming the different components that will need to go into a new device that we’re developing.
Even though this is a simplified example—a real technology product will almost always be more complex—it gives us a good idea of how we can start breaking down the different parts of the product and how they will ultimately fit together.
From there, we can break it down even further. For example, let’s zoom in on the Software UX and add some sub-topics for wireframes, user research, and navigation. Then we’ll dig further into wireframes to include both hi-fi and lo-fi designs. One of the great things about mind mapping is that we can get as granular as we want.
Another thing to note is that we were able to improve the visual quality of our mind map by editing text and colors and arranging and connecting elements. Cacoo’s user interface (UI) makes it easy to customize all of these stylistic elements.
Let’s take this one step further by changing the shapes of some of our boxes. This will help us to understand our different networking options at a glance.
Cacoo’s mind mapping software is easy to use, even for non-technical roles that may be involved in the product development process. The drag-and-drop UI, combined with intuitive features and options, lets teammates start mind mapping right away.
That doesn’t mean that you’re constrained when it comes to design. Cacoo’s design flexibility lets you make your mind maps look exactly like you want them to look so that they are easy to read and understand. For our example, let’s add some helpful icons to our networking section. These icons come included in Cacoo and are easy to access throughout the navigation bar to the left.
Step 2: Share your mind map with others
Whether you’re planning on holding a team brainstorming session to build a mind map from scratch or you want to send a trusted teammate your custom mind map so that they can provide input and feedback f, this is the next step in transforming your tech ideas into reality.
To share a diagram, you can add collaborators, either by name or email, and assign them privileges and roles. Diagram owners have the most comprehensive permissions, so ‘Can Edit’ or ‘View Only’ will be the most appropriate options for most team members and stakeholders.
You can also share your Cacoo diagrams and mind maps via a link. You can make a public link that can be shared anywhere, and you can generate a link to an image of the sheet or HTML code so that you can embed it into a website.
Once everyone is on board, it’s time to get to work. Simply right click anywhere on the diagram to leave a comment, and use @ tags to mention specific collaborators so they know to follow up.
You can also get a bird’s eye view of all the feedback on your mind map by going to the comments tab to the right. From there you can reply to comments or mark them as resolved.
Finally, Cacoo makes it easy to export your mind map into whatever format you need so that you can take the next step in your project. Simply click the export button at the top, and you’ve got options to export as a PNG, SVG, PDF, and more.
When we put it all together, we have a tool that meets any product development team’s collaboration and brainstorming needs. Since Cacoo provides online access with real-time updates, remote and hybrid team members can join in on the fun from anywhere in the world.
Unlike static files, collaborators never have to worry about split-brain and can see each other add elements or make comments as they work. Plus, interactive features like commenting and live chat make it easy to keep everyone active and engaged without relying on any outside platforms or communication tools.
Step 3: Update your mind maps for ongoing collaboration
If there’s any reason to adopt an agile methodology for product development, it’s because products always change. In tech development, that could mean anything from adding a feature to an entire architecture overhaul.
If your team is staying agile, their mind maps should, too.
All you have to do to revise the content or layout is click on the element and revise your options. There are tons of ways to edit diagrams to keep them up to date or revised for clarity.
Never worry about team members having an out-of-date copy thanks to the history feature. Just like your software engineers may rely on Git to track changes and maintain a comprehensive version control history, Cacoo functions similarly.
Just press the ‘History’ button in the bottom right corner, and you can save a current version.
It’s always a good idea to save a version before doing any major updates. Not only does it give you a better sense of where you’ve been, but it can also save the day if something goes wrong. Just restore to a previous version, and you’re back in action.
Start mind mapping with Cacoo today
If you’re having a hard time organizing your thoughts or getting the creative juices flowing during your team’s brainstorming sessions, introducing a tool like Cacoo will help you reach your full potential.
Cacoo’s brainstorming and mind mapping templates make it fast and easy to start. Because Cacoo is so easy to use and comes with many options, it’s a fit for both technical and non-technical roles. Getting designers and developers on the same page isn’t always so simple. Using Cacoo removes that friction.
Project leaders and product managers don’t have time for a cumbersome UI either. Sharing a diagram and assigning privileges to collaborators takes next to no time and lets you spend more time on what actually matters.
And it’s not just one-and-done. Keeping those mind maps and diagrams up-to-date is also a breeze. Cacoo is your tool for long-term collaboration.
Starting with Cacoo is so easy. Try it free right now and see the power for yourself.