The idea behind mind maps is that you start with a central concept, write it down in the middle of a page, then add nodes as you think of different ideas around that concept. You can further develop any of the ideas by branching out more nodes from these ideas and so on. On paper it might look something like this:
This approach can be used for planning a website – structure, functionality, features, content, business model and what ever else you can think of. While it can be done with pen and paper, a good software tool offers much more flexibility as you can easily move things around, change them and you never run out of paper.
I’ve started using a freely available took called FreeMind for website planning and I find to be ideally suited for the job. It’s a great way to start putting structure on your ideas and – you can keep adding ideas as you think of them, go back and reorganise and fine-tune them.
Here’s a screen-shot of it in action: