Knowledge Mappers 2.0 – #2 In Summary: Clearer, More Systematic Map Titles & Icons, A Lot More Maps (Especially In Support Of MindManager Users) And More Of Them For Free! (Oh And A Better Web Presence :-)

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So last time we shared the results of our “honest and objective product review in an agile style“, and said that we’ve been using these to change the way we do things in something we have called Knowledge Mappers 2.0. In this post we’ll summarise what this means for end users (we’ll go into more detail about each aspect in subsequent posts).

 

New Map Naming System

What’s in a name? Everything if it’s a product you want for a specific purpose. That’s why we are very in favour of the “Does what is says in the tin” school of product naming.

Thus we have put a lot of thought into re-designing a system for naming our maps. Firstly it has to be robust enough to cope with the broad range of subject areas we will be covering with the new maps we will be publishing over the next few weeks.

Our naming system also needs to cope with the subtle variations between related maps, such as:-

  • the level of detail (ie. the number of hierarchical levels of map branches).
  • the layout of the branches (ie. how they are arranged around the central topic).
  • the number of information sources that the map links to (one web source or many?).

We will go into more detail about our map naming system in a later post, but an illustration of it can be found in the image that goes with this series of blog posts about Knowledge Mappers 2.0. So what was previously our “Countries of The World Template Atlas (Geographic Layout)” map, has now become the “Countries of the World Wikipedia Webmap (BASIC ATLAS Edition) map.

 

New Map Icons System

One of the problems with screenshots of maps (of any sort) is they all start to look the same when shrunk down to the size of a product thumbnail image (approximately 150 x 150 pixels). We therefore knew from the start of Knowledge Mappers that we needed a different way of visually representing the maps in our mapstore, and so we devised our own series of “hand drawn” 48 x 48 pixel icons, taking a lot of our inspiration from Dan Roam and his classic book “The Back of a Napkin“.

We also knew that it would be impossible to come up with a single icon that could denote all of the subtle variations in maps listed above, and so it has always been the case that 3 icons have been combined in order to represent any map (4 when you get down to representing different file formats of the same map). However they haven’t always been used consistently, and some of them weren’t the clearest.

We’ll go into more detail about our updated iconography system in a further blog post of it’s own, but we think it has resulted in a much more colourful store front and more of a visual continuity between the products. By way of illustration we once again use the example shown in the header image for this post:-

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More Maps

We found that, once we had thought through a future-proof system for naming our products and visually representing them so they can be added to our store, all the other processes  became much, much easier. We had created a ‘big picture’ framework, within which everything done so far, and crucially not yet done, could be placed. Thus we could see:-

  • related maps we could do around an existing subject category to ‘fill in the gaps’.
  • the same related series of maps. but for new subject categories.

Basically we can start making a lot more maps, confident of the whole end-to-end process from initial idea in our head (and there are a lot of those!), to final mapstore product, to marketing message to existing and potential customers.

Again we will go into more detail about our strategy for making the maps that we do in a later post. For now though look at our Coming Soon category page on the website. It lists all our maps that are currently “in production”, with the list greatly expanding over the last couple of weeks as we’ve been getting our mojo on!

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More Free Maps

We have always offered free maps, but after our agile review identified that we haven’t added one to the catalogue in quite a while, we decided we needed to change our publishing model. We have now consciously adopted the freemium model. This means offering more basic, “taster” versions of our maps for free to get users started on using the great online resources we have discovered and mapped. By “basic maps” we mean fewer branches and less levels of detail.

We have yet to implement this for all the existing maps in the catalogue but will do when they are next updated. We are doing this for all the new maps we add to the store (see our new MindManager User Resource Maps below). Again we will blog about this on more detail soon but for now checkout our free maps page and get downloading!

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Expanded MindManager User Resources Pages On Our Website

As experienced MindManager users we realised that there were a lot of supporting resources out there if you know where to look. However there wasn’t one place on the web where these were all documented together, so we decided to do it. Thus we now have a greatly expanded MindManager resources section on our website, with dedicated pages containing comprehensive information and all the links we could find about:-

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MindManager & Zapier Software Shop Categories On Our Mapstore

We have created dedicated sub-categories for MindManager and Zaper in the software category of our online store. (One of the most significant features of MindManager 2017 is the integration with the Zapier online app integration webservice to enable the automation of individual tasks and whole work-flow processes).

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These provide a home for….

 

MindManager & Zapier User Resource Webmaps

The process of creating our MindManager webpages confirmed 2 things for us:-

  1. there are a lot of MindManager user resources out there.
  2. traditional webpages, with their fixed linear structure and navigation, and endless, endless scrolling, are not the best way of documenting a lot of information resources for general discovery.

It was time to test out our new Knowledge Mappers 2.0 map making process! And what better way for MIndManager users to discover MIndManager supporting resources than through a MindManager map -  as we have always said “drill down, don’t scroll down people!”

We had used MindManager to fully map all the resource links for the newly expanded MindManager section of our website (naturally!), it’s only a few thousand links after all. So it was straightforward to turn the map into a product to add to our mapstore – our MindManager Online Resources Webmap (FULL Edition) map.

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As per our new map-making system, we also:-

Again we will blog in more detail about these new map products in the near future, but in the meanwhile please download our MindManager & Zapier User Resource maps and ‘get stuck in’, that’s what they’re there for! :-)

 

Expanded MindManager Services Pages On Our Website

One of the problems (in a good way :-) ) with MindManager is that it is so useful and can expedite so many different, every-day business tasks and processes, that it’s difficult to pin down with words every way in which we can help clients get the best from it.

Our expanding map catalogue shows what we are doing with information in the public domain for public benefit. It also shows what the benefits could be for clients by mapping their own business information. We’ve tried our best to sum it all up in our expanded MindManager Services section of the website.

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A Better, More Expanded Web Presence

Finally (for now), we’ve been working on our web presence. As you can see from the above we’ve done a great deal to expand the content of our main website at www.knowledgemappers.com. However our agile review showed us that we still needed to improve several aspects of our web presence:-

Make our website mobile friendly - Our current website is starting to show its age. It is pre-HTML5 so isn’t responsive and isn’t very mobile friendly. It’s a major job changing architectures for a customised digital download store like ours, but it is on our development roadmap. Just bear with us!

Become more social - We have had a presence on social media, but it’s fair to say we haven’t really been doing much with it whilst we have been concentrating on the back-office stuff. Now that we’ve got something to say though we have re-energised our efforts on social media so we now have:-

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Keep watching those skies people!

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Next Time - Knowledge Mappers 2.0 – #3 Our New Range Of Map Types In Brief

 

Knowledge Mappers 2.0 – #1 You Need To Know Where You Are Now Before You Can Move To A Better Place! [Company News]

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As we blogged yesterday, MindManager has got it’s mojo back and there’s loads of new possibilities for the 2 million worldwide users opening up as a result. Not the least of these is in the realm of publishing and sharing of information in map form, which observant viewers will notice is very much our “schtick;-) ).

However before we recommenced our quest to “boldly go where no information map cartographer has gone before“, we thought it would be a sensible idea to review everything we have done so far, but with our agile business hats on. For us this meant viewing all our output from an end users perspective honestly and objectively, as well as reviewing all the back-office work-flow processes involved and asking ourselves if we could work smarter.

Oh yes whilst not losing our passion for why we were doing all this in the first place in the process ….

 

The Product Review Part 1 – Our products from an end-user perspective

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After looking at our products honestly and objectively from an end users perspective, we concluded that:-

  • for a map publishing business, new maps were not added to the catalogue very often.
  • our map titles did not always refelct the specific contents of the map accurately enough.
  • the syntax of our map titles (ie. our product names) could be more systematic, and could also be more consistent so that the way in which one map differs from another, which can be very subtle, is more obvious to the user. For example maps may have the same content but be arranged in a different layout eg. a pseudo-geapgraphic (“ATLAS”) layout with branches that go in all directions from the central topic in a way that mimics a traditional geographic map, versus an alphabetical (“A-Z”) by name layout with branches that go to the right only of the central topic.
  • the icons used to visually represent the maps in our catalogue do not always convey the content to potential users well.
  • as with the titles, the product icons have not always been used consistently and so though some maps may be related in terms of their content and / or structure, you couldn’t always tell that from the product icons.
  • not all maps have product videos and for those that do, sometimes the video is too long and too detailed (it takes a long time to make a short video!).
  • we hadn’t added any new free maps to the catalogue for quite some time.
  • users weren’t always informed of when new products were added to the store,
  • users couldn’t always tell what maps were coming down the line. Sometimes maps had been added straight to the catalogue without apprearing in the Coming Soon category first.
  • there was no public statement of our overall product strategy, explaining why we were choosing to do particular maps and not others, or what the framework was that the maps slotted into.
  • the same goes for a product pricing strategy.
  • probably a couple of other things, but lets not be too hard on ourselves…;-)

 

The Product Review Part 2 – Our products from a back-office perspective

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We then looked at our products from our own, “back office” perspective, ie. everything we had to do to get a map product in our mapstore. We realised that:-

  • our development hard drive is full of very useful maps that we have made over the years that have never been published in our store catalogue, even though they would be of great use to loads of other people.
  • the reason that maps have not been published is that there are a lot of different tasks that need be done in order to turn an information map we have created for ourselves into a proper information product that can be added to our online mapstore and confidently used by anybody.
  • individually (let alone all together) these tasks can take a lot longer to complete than it took to map the information in the first place! Product descriptions & metadata, product images, product demonstration / instruction videos, marketing copy (such as blog posts) etc., all require their own specific skill sets with their own specific “modes of operation”. If you are in full MindManager map making mode, capturing 1000′s of branches of information and “cartographising” it for optimum end-user knowledge transfer, you cannot easily just switch to planning / writing marketing copy, or wrestling with the back-end of your online shop software!.
  • these tasks are also interdependant ie. they have to happen in a particular order. You can’t create a portfolio of compelling product images, or a detailed product description, or a compelling but concise product demo video, before the actual map is finished!
  • there’s no point in just dusting all these maps off and rushing them onto “the shelves” without a coherent overall product strategy.
  • our product strategy would have to be applied retrospectively to all the existing maps in the store before adding new products.
  • all this is going to take quite a lot of man-hours so we need to buy another box of double-ended candles, and why not a few bottles of midnight oil as well ;-)

Well those are the “highlights” of our honest and objective (brutal?), agile self-examination. However the point of this post is not to leave you hanging in despair, but to give you the background on the changes to come. The changes we are calling Knowledge Mappers 2.0.

And it’s all good!

Keep watching those skies people!

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Next Time - Knowledge Mappers 2.0 – #2 In Summary: Clearer, More Systematic Map Titles & Icons, A Lot More Maps (Especially In Support Of MindManager Users) And More Of Them For Free! (Oh And A Better Web Presence :-) )

MindManagers New Mojo – 17.1 Released & The Story So Far [MindManager News]

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You may have noticed that MindManager has got a new “mojo goin’ on”, with a huge “buzz” around the MindManager universe over the last few months. The latest news to come out of Mindjet is that the first update of MindManager 2017 for Windows (version 17.1) has now been released (you can download it from the support page here).

Here at Knowledge Mappers we’ve been very busy keeping up with developments, and channeling some of that new vibe into developing & expanding our range of MindManager resources and services and giving our own mojo a bit of a boost. This has meant we’ve been pretty quiet as far as blogging goes, but all that’s about to change. Before we make any announcements of our own though, in this post I want to recap the MindManager 2017 story so far so we’re all up to speed (and show off one of the new product features – the Timeline Layout applied to our Standard Calendar – in the process!).

 

MindManager 2017 – Timeline Of Important Events

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Aug 9 - Mindjet & MindManager bought by the Corel Corporation. With hindsight this should not have been a surprise as Mindjet had been internally de-merging the MindManager & Spigit Engage businesses for quite some time beforehand (official Mindjet Blog announcement).

Aug 30 - Beta versions of MindManager 2017 for Windows and MindManager 10.5 for Mac released to Mindjet International Value Added Partners (MIVAPs) for evaluation and feedback. As this is the most major version release for quite some time, Beta Testing was a busy time for us all as we got to grips with the great new features whilst at the same time planning how they could be incorporated into our products and services for the future benefit of our customers.

Sep - Weekly “Sneak Peek” blog posts by Michael Deutch, VP of Products at Mindjet, showcasing one of the new features of MIndManager 2017:-

Oct 5 - MindManager 2017 For Windows released to public (official Mindjet Blog announcement)

Oct 6 - MindManager 10.5 For Mac released to public (official Mindjet Blog announcement)

Oct 11 - MindManager 2017 For Windows very favourably releview by The MindMapping Software Blog

Dec 7 - Update For MindManager 2017 For Windows released (MindManager Version 17.1 )

 

Knowledge Mappers New Mojo

As we have said already MindManager 2017 is the most major version release of MindManager for quite some time and it opens up great new possibilities for users, not the least of which is for information map publishing and sharing (which we are very keen on ;-) ). Thus over the next couple of weeks we’ve got a whole bunch of announcements to make about a whole bunch of exciting new Knowledge Mappers products and services we have been working on over the last few months and can now finally be shared.

Watch the skies people….

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Next Time - Knowledge Mappers 2.0 - #1 You Need To Know Where You Are Now Before You Can Move To A Better Place!

 

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