Concept Map

Concept Map Template

Generate new ideas and add structure to your thoughts with the Concept Map Template. Explore connections between concepts and let your creativity flow.

About the Concept Map Template

Are you looking to understand a new topic? Or do you need to create a messaging flow for your website? Perhaps you’re trying to understand the relationship between two complex ideas? No matter the use case, you need a concept map template to get you to your "aha" moment. It’s a great tool for mapping out the relationships between concepts — and it couldn't be simpler to use.

Get started now with this free template and keep reading to learn more about concept mapping.

What is a concept map?

A concept map is a visual diagram tool used to depict ideas and concepts. Using cross-links, you draw connections between your ideas and organize them into a hierarchical structure.

Concept maps are similar to mind maps, but they’re not the same. Mind mapping focuses on specific topics. Concept mapping is about the relationship and connections between new ideas.

Concept maps are used in both business and education. For businesses, they help teams better understand the connection between ideas and concepts. Teams can visualize how all the key elements relate to one another and figure out if a new idea or concept is worth pursuing.

With education, faculty members use concept maps to help students develop meaningful learning and retain new information. It’s particularly helpful for students that prefer visual learning, but it can benefit all students.

How to create a concept map

A concept map can be stylized in various ways, but they generally consist of concepts written in boxes or circles, with arrows (known as cross-links) connecting related ideas. To start creating one of your own, simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Set up the template

Start by selecting this concept map template. It’s free to sign up, and you can customize the template in various ways to meet the specific needs of your concept mapping. Take a look at some of our customizable tools to see for yourself.

Step 2: Choose a topic

Identify a topic you’d like to understand better and add it into the center box. This is the starting point of the concept map. It’s often referred to as the focus question or key concept.

Step 3: Brainstorm related concepts

Brainstorm additional concepts you know are related to that topic, and add them as separate shapes. Make a note of the areas you know well and the areas you need to better understand.

Step 4: Draw connections between these concepts

With all your key concepts in place, it’s time to connect these ideas. Concepts can be linked by lines or phrases that describe the relationship between them.

Step 5: Establish a hierarchy

As a rule, the broadest and most widely applicable ideas are positioned at the top of the hierarchy in a concept map, with the more specific and less applicable ideas placed at the bottom. This isn’t always the case, though, and you should arrange your ideas how they best work for you and your team. The purpose of this step is to delineate which ideas are most important and formative in shaping your thoughts on the topic and which are more downstream and specialized.

Step 6: Draw from research

Go through your research to fill in any information gaps you may have missed. Focus on how concepts relate to each other and the key concept or focus question.

Step 7: Collaborate with your team

Invite other team members to collaborate on the concept map in real-time or simply share the finished product to help them learn what you know about the topic.

What are the different types of concept maps?

Concept maps come in all different shapes and sizes. Here are a few of the common formats:

  • Spiderman/spider map. The spider map (sometimes known as a semantic map) is named as such because of its spider-like appearance. All the information is displayed around the central diagnosis, making it easy to create and easy to read. However, it doesn’t always clearly demonstrate the relationships between concepts.

  • Hierarchical. In a hierarchical concept map, all the general information will sit at the top of the diagram. This will gradually feed into more specific information, giving readers an easy pattern to follow when reading. Much like the spider map, this format makes it hard to identify the relationships between ideas and concepts.

  • Flow chart. With a flow chart, the focus question or key concept sits at the top (or to the left) of the diagram. Scroll up and take a look at our concept map template as an example. You can see the main concept to the left of the diagram (current objectives), with more specific detail flowing from this concept (hiring, increase conversion, and so on). It’s clear, easy to follow, and you can demonstrate the relationships between ideas.

  • System map. A system map is an incredibly detailed and complex concept map. It includes all the information you need and the relationship between all the data. This can be a time-consuming option to create. And because it’s so complex, it’s harder to follow than the other formats.

If you’re not sure which of these formats is right for you, don’t worry. It’s hard to know without giving them a try. Fortunately, Miro’s online whiteboard allows you to customize your concept map template so you can figure out which structure works best for you.

When to use a Concept Map Template

From helping someone learn a new idea to plotting out customer journeys, concept maps are useful in a variety of situations. Take a look at some other situations when a concept map template can be helpful.

Teaching visual learners a new concept

Concept maps help visual learners understand a new idea or concept. Some people learn better with visuals rather than written instructions. It’s much more engaging and easier for visual learners to follow.

Learning a new subject

Just as you can use a concept map to teach someone a new concept, you can also make a concept map to understand an idea better. Many people use a concept map in addition to other learning methods to get a better grasp of a topic.

Mapping out a user flow

Businesses commonly use concept maps to walk through the user flow of their product. They help you understand your product as the customer sees it, giving you a better understanding of brand perception. It also identifies areas of improvement in the customer journey.

The advantages of using a Concept Map Template

Concept maps provide a unique and visual depiction of concepts in a way that's easy to follow — unless you use a system map! Let's look at some of the benefits in more detail.

Learn visually

Many people learn and think better visually than from something like reading a lengthy essay. A high-quality concept map plays to the strengths of these learners.

Clarify your ideas

Concept maps simplify complex topics and ideas. Let’s say you need to present a new concept to executives or cross-functional partners. You’re struggling to wrap your head around the new concept, so you use a concept map. By doing so, you’re able to spell out these ideas and their various connections beforehand and then communicate them more effectively to others.

Draw new connections

Concept mapping allows you to develop new ideas by looking at how different concepts are connected. You’ll organize these concepts to better understand the relationships between them.

See the bigger picture

A concept map helps teams see the bigger picture. With everything laid out in a concept map, they’ll understand how everything connects. This gives them a deeper understanding of how to support the success and development of the business.

Examples of concept maps

Let’s say you want to gain insights into the topic of climate change. You start by adding climate change at the center of your concept map and draw cross-links to causes, evidence, and solutions. After you brainstorm with your team, you add more ideas to these topic clusters and make connections between them with hard or dotted lines. To have a good concept map session, let your creativity flow. Even if an idea seems too absurd or too unrealistic, write it down anyway. Connections will appear the more ideas you add. And, have fun when concept mapping!

FAQs about the Concept Map Template

What is a concept map used for?

Concept maps are used to map out the different relationships between ideas. They help visualize complex ideas and data sets, learn new materials, draw new connections, and clarify new ideas. Concept maps can be used in a business setting to explore key concepts and ideas for business growth and development, and for educational purposes to better understand a new concept and to develop meaningful learning.

How do you create a concept map?

To create a concept map, start with a central topic or theme that you want to explore. Then, conduct a brainstorming session where you plot out interrelated ideas and draw lines to explore the various connections between these ideas.

Concept Map Template

Get started with this template right now.

Related Templates
CustomerJourneyMap-thumb-web
Preview

Customer Journey Map Template

A customer journey map (CJM) is a visual representation of your customer’s experience. It allows you to capture the path that a customer follows when they buy a product, sign up for a service, or otherwise interact with your site. Most maps include a specific persona, outlines their customer experience from beginning to end, and captures the potential emotional highs and lows of interacting with the product or service. Use this template to easily create customer journey maps for projects of all kinds.

Customer Journey Map Template
BCG Thumbnail
Preview

BCG Matrix Template

Works best for:

Strategic Planning

Use the BCG matrix template to make informed and strategic decisions about growth opportunities for your business. Assign your portfolio of products to different areas within the matrix (cash cows, dogs, question marks, stars) to prioritize where you should invest your time and money to see the best results.

BCG Matrix Template
Decision Tree Thumbnail
Preview

Decision Tree Template

Works best for:

Decision Making, Mind Mapping, Diagrams

Making difficult decisions gets easier when you can look clearly at your choices and visualize the outcomes. That’s just what a decision tree will help you do, empowering you to invest your time and money with confidence. A decision tree is a flowchart that looks just how you’d imagine—with “branches” that represent your available choices. It provides a stylized way to play out a series of decisions and see where they lead before you commit your real-world resources, which is especially valuable for startups and smaller companies.

Decision Tree Template
Decision Tree Thumbnail
Preview

Decision Tree Template

Works best for:

Decision Making, Mind Mapping, Diagrams

Making difficult decisions gets easier when you can look clearly at your choices and visualize the outcomes. That’s just what a decision tree will help you do, empowering you to invest your time and money with confidence. A decision tree is a flowchart that looks just how you’d imagine—with “branches” that represent your available choices. It provides a stylized way to play out a series of decisions and see where they lead before you commit your real-world resources, which is especially valuable for startups and smaller companies.

Decision Tree Template
Opportunity Solution Tree-thumb-web
Preview

Opportunity Solution Tree Template

Works best for:

Flowcharts, Product Management, Diagrams

Solving problems — successful companies and productive teams just know how to do it. They’re able to identify many possible solutions, then settle on the one that leads to the desired outcome. That’s the power an Opportunity Solution Tree gives you. Designed by Teresa Torres, a product discovery coach, this mind map breaks down your desired outcome into opportunities for the product to meet user needs, then gives your team an effective way to brainstorm potential solutions.

Opportunity Solution Tree Template
Flowchart Thumbnail
Preview

Flowchart Template

Works best for:

Flowcharts, Mapping, Diagrams

Trying to explain a process or workflow to your team — or just wrap your head around it yourself? Sometimes the best way is to see it, and that’s when you create a flowchart. Using common shapes (generally just ovals, rectangles, diamonds, and arrows), a flowchart shows you the direction a process or workflow goes and the order of steps. Beyond giving you a clear understanding, you’ll also be able to see potential flaws and bottlenecks, which helps you refine and improve your process and create a better product more efficiently.

Flowchart Template