Web sites and mind maps

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If you plan and design web sites, mind maps can provide a useful platform because of the ease with which they display structure and links. Websites rarely adopt a pure tree hierarchy however, so the capabilities of concept mapping software can also be useful.

Planning web sites[edit]

Writing content in context[edit]

Building web sites[edit]

Some mind mapping software can take a mind map and turn it into a web site – or at least the structure of a web site.

There is an example of a web site that was built like this, here: a site about the legal framework for the privacy of personal information in Hong Kong. In that case, MindManager 2002 Enterprise Edition was used, and additional work was needed to fill out the content, but the structure, and the navigation tools on the left hand side were made according to the mind map.

Not all mind mapping software offers this capability and usually there are compromises that require extra work to produce a satisfactory final result.

Presenting information visually on-line[edit]

Information can be presented in mind maps on web pages, as an image or in interactive maps using Flash and other active display components. There are several cases that might be described under this heading, with ever-increasing functions available and levels of access. They are:

  • static images displayed on a web page
  • static images with ‘live’ areas that are hyperlinks to other web pages
  • interactive mind map components embedded in a web page
  • mind maps for viewing (only) on a public collaborative servers
  • mind maps for editing by invited users on public servers
  • mind maps for editing by anyone on public servers

These are described in more detail under the headings below.

Static images displayed on a web page[edit]

Displaying a static image of a mind map for viewing only on a web page is still the most common way of presenting mind maps on the Web. If you work with paper, pen and colors, scanning the map and displaying it as a static image is your only option. There are plenty of sites the demonstrate how powerful that can be. A recent competition brought out some of the best: The Great Hand-drawn Mind Mappers Face-off and the follow-on found yet more: Hand-drawn mindmaps face-off: Part 3 New faces

“Static” they may be, but their freshness gives them life.

Static images with ‘live’ areas that link to other pages[edit]

Occasionally, we find sites that display a static image of a mind map with ‘live’ areas that can take the user to other web pages. This uses a simple HTML ‘image-map’ approach.

It is time-consuming to set up, inflexible on occasions when the map must be changed, and suitable only for simple maps, unless you are willing to commit plenty of time to making it work.

Interactive mind map components in a web page[edit]

This is a popular approach, with several options for embedding a mind map component in a web page or other methods for making interactive maps that work in a browser. When the user views the component, it can be used interactively as if the software were installed on the user’s PC, though read-only. These allow, for example, folding and unfolding of branches, changing the zoom factor, ‘live’ hyperlinks and panning around the map.

MindManager (version 8) has the simplest option for interactive maps on the web. It allows generation of interactive Flash and PDF files that can simply be linked to from a web page and will open in a browser. There are many examples of this in WikIT. The resulting maps do not exactly follow the style of the original MindManager map and not all features are carried across to the Flash or PDF version, but this is a valuable feature introduced with version 8.

FreeMind offers many options, with ways of integrating with various types of wiki software, as well as a Flash-based plugin for any web site. This has the significant advantage that the appearance retains the style of the original map.

Mind maps for viewing (only) on a public collaborative servers[edit]

Making a mind map available for viewing on one of the public collaborative mind map servers is another option, especially useful to those who do not have their own website.

Mind maps for editing by invited users on public servers[edit]

Making a mind map available for editing by invited users on one of the public servers

Mind maps for editing by anyone on public servers[edit]

Making a mind map available for editing by anyone on one of the public servers


Mindjet Player: Flash or PDF[edit]

Here is an example about basic Wikipedia editing facts that uses Mindjet’s Player to make the read-only mind map interactive. Acrobat Reader 9 and the latest Flash version are required.

FreeMind Flash add-on[edit]

FreeMind has a Flash add-on that allows FreeMind mind maps to be embedded in web pages.



Confluence has a FreeMind plugin.


Drupal allows users to create and view FreeMind mind maps, by means of a FreeMind module, if the Macromedia Flash or Java plugin is installed on the web server.


Debategraph is embeddable by iframe.


JSPWiki has a FreeMind plugin.


Joomla can accept FreeMind files. The documentation is here, but in German only, in the form of an interactive mind map.

By way of reversal, Joom!FreeMind Standalone v.1.8 is a java and PHP-based mindmap/sitemap generation tool. It can take a Joomla 1.5.x or 1.0.x site and make a FreeMind mind map from it. There is an example here.


MediaWiki has a FreeMind plugin.

MindMeister mind maps can be included in a MediaWiki page using the MindMeister plugin.


MoinMoin has a FreeMind plugin.


Moodle has a Freemind filter based on the Flash or Java plugin.


Trac is an open source, web-based project management and bug-tracking tool. It has a FreeMind plugin.


TikiWiki is a PHP/MySQL CMS/Groupware engine that renders FreeMind by means of the Mindmap plugin, if Macromedia Flash or Java is installed on your local computer.


FreeMind maps can be included in Wikka pages. It requires Java (1.4.x or later) to be installed and runable in your browser. If you use Wikka, this is very easy to do. There is an option to link to a FreeMind file and another to paste the Freemind file contents into a Wikka page. This is described simply, with working examples, at the Wikkawiki site.


FreeMind mind maps can be embedded in web pages using Yacs. This tells you how and this shows an example you can try.

For free information about the hundreds of
visual thinking tools available, visit the

Visual Thinking Center