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How to Use Mind Mapping for Product Comparison (a Case Study)

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How to Use Mind Mapping for Product Comparison (a Case Study)

image Whether you're hesitating between purchasing a sleek MacBook or a feature-rich Windows laptop, weighing the pros and cons can be overwhelming. While you can read numerous product reviews and watch comparison videos on YouTube, doing your analysis is by far the best thing you can do.

Spreadsheets, Word documents, and even fancy software may complicate your decision-making process. It has been shown that visual tools can highly support this process. They can simplify complex information, make comparisons more accessible, and enhance comprehension. That's where the power of mind mapping comes in. Beyond collaboration, learning, planning, project management, and countless other use cases, mind mapping is a great candidate to support decision-making.

We’ll now conduct a comprehensive product comparison with mind mapping via an interactive case study to delve into the key deciding factors between a MacBook and a Windows laptop. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Build Up Your Core Mind Map

First, we’ll create a basic mind map with the main branches representing the key decision-making factors. We can use ChatGPT in the idea generation phase to come up with useful variables. image

If you want to turn ChatGPT bullet points into a mind map, you can do it.

I won’t do it right now because I already have my own decision factors when it comes to choosing a great laptop.

Next up, we’ll create the main branches of our mind map, which will serve as the key decision factors. Each branch represents a major domain in our decision process.

Later, we’ll add sub-branches to expand our thoughts about each decision factor. What I like about Xmind is that you have the option to create multicolor branches where the siblings will inherit the color of the parents. This helps the thinking process and makes our mind map more esthetic. image

(The map is made with Xmind.)

Let’s get down to work and complete our mind map with sub-branches.

Step 2: Develop Your Sub-branches for Product Features

We’ve already outlined the main decision-making factors as the main branches of our mind map. Now, we have two options: either we can use two separate sub-branches under each topic (main branch) to represent our laptop computers, or we can use different colors for each product. I prefer the first, dichotomic approach simply because it’s more straightforward. So, each sub-branch will display our product choices: a Windows laptop (a ZenBook) and a MacBook. image

(The map is made with Xmind.)

Now, we can pull up the configuration data from a product description or a review and add more sub-branches as we develop our thinking. For example, in the performance domain, I’ve added data about the processor, memory, and storage capacity for each product. You can continue with as many sub-topics as you may need for each branch. It’s already an enlightening experience, but we’ll now weigh our options and finally come up with the verdict.

And this is where the fun starts…

Step 3: Weigh the Decision Factors

You can use Xmind's Summary function to assign a number to each branch. By numbering the variables, we can make our decision-making process more selective and objective.

I followed Tony Buzan’s methodology, who is considered the grandfather of mind mapping. He used a scale from 1 to 100, where the higher the number, the higher the importance of the factor. Negative numbers indicate adverse effects. image

(The map is made with Xmind.)

Note that there are sub-branches without numbers. There is no hard rule on how to weigh your factors; it’s totally up to you.

To make our mind map (and our decision-making process) more visual, you can add a marker to each main branch, indicating who is the winner in each category. I assigned a badge to each of my main branches to aid my decision visually.

In the final step, we’ll use two floating topics to sum up the numbers and finally come up with our decision. As you can see, the numbers are quite similar indicating that both products are solid choices. If this is the case, you can include pricing in your analysis or play with the weights to arrive at a convincing decision.

However accurate our product comparison analysis may be, don’t forget about our last branch: the emotional effect. You’re certainly attached to some brands. Don’t discount emotion as a decision-making factor. It may easily outcompete certain hard factors.

Final Words

Mind mapping is a powerful tool to support your decision-making process. You can use mind maps not only for comparing physical or digital products, but they’re a good candidate to support your decision-making in your business. So, the next time you're faced with a tough decision, remember the harmony of structure and creativity that mind mapping offers. Use the proposed weighing method to come up with a more objective decision and don’t forget about the emotion effect.


Csaba Vadadi-Fulop is a biologist PhD & productivity blogger. He blogs at about productivity gadgets, software, books, and more. When he is not at his desk or hanging out with his family, you'll catch him riding his bike on the riverside or listening to classic boom-bap hip-hop. image

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