Concept Maps

We create concept maps, a type of model,
to explore and learn about complex information spaces.
By showing everything—the forest and the trees—in a single view,
concept maps help people create mental models and clarify thoughts.
We create concept maps to share understanding—
with our clients, peers, and others interested in the subjects.

Please note: many of our concept maps are poster size.
They can be printed at smaller sizes (11 x 17), but may be difficult to read.
A few of the maps have been printed and are available through our office.

Mar 11, 2008

A Model of Play

Concept Map: A Model of Play

*Created in collaboration with Satoko Kakihara, Jack Chung, and Paul Pangaro.*

This model is built on the idea that play is a type of conversation. It involves two individuals, who might also be teams, or points of view with in a single person, or a virtual person and a real person. Through conversation, they create a shared world in their imaginations, which leads to fun.


Mar 29, 2007

A Model of Innovation

Concept Map: Innovation

*Created in collaboration with Sean Durham, Ryan Reposar, Paul Pangaro, and Nathan Felde.*

This model is built on the idea that innovation is about changing paradigms. The model situates innovation between two conventions. Innovations transform old into new. It is a process—a process in which insight inspires change and creates value.


Jul 28, 2004

How Organizations Track Customers

Concept Map: Information Loop

Increasingly, organizations are focusing on understanding their customers to increase customer satisfaction and to maximize lifetime customer value. Insights gleaned from observing customers can drive product improvement, loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals and cross- and upselling.


Domain Name System

Concept Map: Domain Name System

Created in collaboration with Paul Devine.

The domain name system stores and associates many types of information with domain names, but more importantly, associates domain names (computer hostnames) to IP addresses. DNS is a system vital to the smooth operation of the Internet.

The goal of this diagram is to explain what DNS is, how it works, and how it’s governed. The diagram knits together many facts about DNS in hopes of presenting a comprehensive picture of the system and the context in which it operates.


Jul 29, 2003

A Model of a Heart Attack

Concept Map: Heart Attack

*Created in collaboration with Audrey Crane.*

For many years, Stanford University Cardiac Rehabilitation Program (SCRP) has conducted research on ways to change the behavior of patients who have had heart attacks. Their research is aimed at reducing the risk of a patient having another heart attack. Educating patients and their families is a key component of changing patient behavior.


Feb 14, 2003

Java Technology

Concept Map: Java Technology

*Created in collaboration with Audrey Crane, Jim Faris, and Harry Saddler.*

This diagram explains Java by placing it in the context of related concepts and examples, and by defining its major components and other connections between them.


Mar 25, 2001

A Model of Brand

Concept Map: A Model of Brand

This diagram is a model of brand, a term often used in business, marketing, and design. The diagram attempts to present a comprehensive model of brand and to unpack the meaning of the term by providing related concepts and examples. You read the armature of the map (structure) horizontally and vertically. The map is framed around four main ideas:

1. a brand is more than a name or symbol
2. creating a great customer experience is the essence of good branding
3. perceptions of a brand can be measured
4. brands are a form of sign

Download PDF

Download step-by-step build PDF

Apr 15, 2000

How to Play Baseball

Concept Map: Baseball

The game of baseball provides wonderful subject matter for a concept map.

I introduce design students to the idea and practice of concept maps by assigning them the task of de-constructing the game of baseball and then re-constructing it in the form of a concept map.


Aug 8, 1999

Understanding Internet Search

Concept Map: Understanding Internet Search

We couldn’t know back in 1999 how important Search would become to the Internet. It was important enough to us then—at Netscape—to develop a model to understand how Internet search worked at that time.


Jul 30, 1995

Design for the Internet

Concept Map: Design for the Internet

This is a concept map of design for the Internet, created when the Internet was a much smaller entity that still fit into a poster-sized diagram. Designed for the American Center for Design Third Annual Living Surfaces Conference, the map attempts to define both the nascent Internet and design as a process for Internet creation.

The top half of the diagram is a concept map describing design. The long horizontal box defines design by linking major concepts in hierarchies. The bottom half of the diagram is a concept map describing the internet. The vertical box defines the Internet, and the horizontal box places it within a context that also includes people, computers, and information.

Download PDF