Concept Maps are used to graphically represent ideas and how they relate to each other. Concept maps may be simple designs illustrating a central theme and a few associated topics, or complex structures that delineate hierarchical or multiple relationships. Concept mapping involves defining a topic, adding related topics, and linking related ideas.
"Concept mapping creates a visual representation of the relationships among a set of targeted topics. The goal of concept mapping is to create an actual map where the concepts are represented as nodes and the relationships between them are represented as lines that link those nodes."
Morgan, D., & Guevara, H. (2008). Concept Mapping. In Lisa M. Given (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods.(pp. 109-110). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc
The example below shows a concept map developed for the design of a playground.
Source: Fosmire, Michael, and Radcliffe, David, eds. Purdue Information Literacy Handbooks : Integrating Information into the Engineering Design Process. Ashland, OH, USA: Purdue University Press, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 6 January 2015.
There are many tools available to help you develop a concept map for your design project including a number of software tools that can be downloaded and used at no charge. If it is your first time developing a concept map, start sketching the concept map on paper or on a white board. In previous years it has been noted that building a concept map enabled the process of brainstorming and sharing what each team member knew about their design project problem and also aided in finding good solutions.