Cognitive Maps, Mind Maps, and Concept Maps: Definitions

From Nielson Norman Group: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/cognitive-mind-concept/

Summary: Cognitive maps, concept maps, and mind maps are diagramming techniques that can be utilized throughout the UX process to visualize knowledge and surface relationships among concepts.


Cognitive mapping, mind mapping, and concept mapping are three powerful visual-mapping strategies for organizing, communicating, and retaining knowledge. They help us lay out complex ideas, processes, and recognize patterns and relationships.

Cognitive maps, mind maps, and concept maps look and feel similar; this similarity causes confusion. They are three different ways of visualizing a mental model — whether it belongs to the designer, the researcher, or the user. Each has its strengths and benefits. This article is a comparison of these three popular types of diagramming and their uses in UX.

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