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SharePoint Information Architecture with MindManager by MindJet

Mind mapping works so well for creating high level and detailed designs of your SharePoint Information Architecture or taxonomy.  I have been using MindManager for the last 5 years and found it to be a wonderful tool to communicate information in a clear graphical view.  A SharePoint Information Architecture or taxonomy cries out for this kind of view. 

I spoke at the Sacramento SharePoint Users Group on the subject of using MindManager from MindJet to help outline and communicate a SharePoint site design and taxonomy.  In working with various clients I have developed a template that I use to outline an Information Architecture design to meet their requirements. 

When I develop these designs with clients I focus on two types of maps.  First I focus on a high level map then I proceed to a more detailed map that gets into the actual settings.  When developing these maps I will focus on several key aspects:

  • Access or Permissions or Authentication: This is one of the critical areas that can dictate a lot about the site design.
    • Key aspect: Don’t break permission in your design.  As your site grows broken permission will cause great hardship to maintain and with user experience.
  • Content: Understanding the following will help you to organize your site design.
    • Use of the content Projects, quick collaboration, department collaboration, repeatable development, reporting, records management, etc.
    • Trusted or in development:  Many implementations mix trusted and in development content with each other making finding the right information very difficult and frustrating for end users.
  • Purpose:  Internal use or will clients need access, department specific or cross department needs, etc.
  • Volume: How much content and how much traffic is expected.  This will help determine if a separate Web App is required.
  • Data Criticality: How critical is that data being up 99.9% of the time.  This can also determine if a separate Web App is required.

This information will really help to shape how the Information Architecture and taxonomy should be laid out.  Here is an example of a high level site design.  I find it to be one of the best ways to have a meaningful discussion about how content will be used in the organization.  

Company Site Structure

Example: ABC Site Structure – PDF Format

Once this is created and agreed upon we can then proceed to the detailed design, which gets into the nuts and bolts of implementing the overall plan. 

I have designed a template that makes it easy to drag an drop sites, libraries, lists, site columns and site content types in to build out your site design.  I have even included Web Apps so that you can also identify the Web Apps that need to be created and the site collections that will reside in them.

ABC Site Structure

Example: Company Site Structure – PDF Format

Here is a closer look at the details found within a Web App and Site Collection.  Each item that has a + will expand to show the details or settings for each one.

ABC Site Structure

With the MindManager software I am able to take complex maps and drill down to just the content that I need to look at.  For example I can filter the map to just show document libraries.  This will then allow me to only show the document libraries throughout the site and the settings associated with those libraries.  So if the policy changed to versioning copies going from 10 to 5 I can easily change it by filtering it down to document libraries and then the setting for each document library.

Based on my workings with clients I have come up with a template that I use to build out the detail diagram for implement SharePoint site design and taxonomy.  Currently they are broken down to four major areas.

  • Web App and Sites – You can add a web app along with a site or you can copy the site and add it to an existing web app.
  • List and Libraries – Select a Document Library or a List to add to your site collection or sub site.
  • Content Types – Select to a Content Type to add to a site collection or site.  I recommend in the list and libraries to just reference a content type and not document it at the list level.
  • Columns – Select a column to add a column at the site collection level or the list or library level.

SharePoint Site Structure Parts II

When you expand the above you can see that you get a lot granularity with designing your SharePoint deployment.  When this is all completed you can easily had this off to someone else to implement and they will know exactly what to do for each and every site and list.

SharePoint Site Structure Parts

Example: SharePoint Site Structure Parts – PDF Format

Template: SharePoint Site Structure Parts Template – MindManager Map Format

Other benefits of the MindManager is that not everyone has to have the software to be able to review and discuss the detailed maps.  MindManager has an expansive export capability.  When you get into complex maps, as this one, you will use one of the many export methods to collaborate with.  I can tell you Export as Mindjet Player is the best export for complex maps and gives all involved an easy way to explore the map.  The Export as Mindjet Player produces a PDF that anyone with a viewer can see and interact with.  Yes, that is correct, you can expand and collapse just like you were in MindManager.  Here is an example that you can interact with. Example: ABC Site Structure

In conclusion, this tool, MindManager by MindJet, allows you to create very complex Information Architected sites and taxonomy maps for SharePoint deployment that make it much easier to understand what is be designed and much easier to document and implement.

Here is all of the documentation:

  1. SharePoint Site Structure Parts Template – MindManager Map Format
  2. SharePoint Site Structure Parts – PDF Format
  3. Company Site Structure Example – PDF Format
  4. ABC Site Structure Example – PDF Format
  5. MindManager by MindJet - Software

Hope this helps,



MindManager for SharePoint

Great article Peter! I love the examples. Have you seen Mindjet's latest release, MindManager for SharePoint? It lets users visualize information from one or more sites & one or more lists within their maps!
at 4/18/2010 10:12 AM

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