Test Coverage: How A Mind Map Can Help

What is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a diagram used to visually organise information. It can be called as a visual thinking tool. A Mind map allows complex information to be presented in a simplified visual form. A mind map is created around a single concept. The concept is represented as an image in the centre to which the associated ideas are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those. A Test coverage mind map achieves the same thing but is applied to test coverage.

test coverage mind map

Mindmapping is a great testing tool for note taking, planning, studying, brainstorming etc. The term ‘mind map’ was first used by Tony Buzan in 1974. I drew my first mindmap when I was in school. I preferred mind-mapping over text notes and it proved to be a great aid to revise and recall the concepts quickly. This is because the information in mindmap is structured in a way that mirrors exactly how the brain functions – in a radiant rather than linear manner. A Mind Map literally ‘maps’ out your thoughts, using associations, connections and triggers to stimulate further ideas.

How to draw a mind map?

Tony Buzan the “Father of Mindmaps” suggests the steps below:

1. Start in the center of a page.

Why? Because starting in the center, gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.

2. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea.

Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focused, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!

3. Use COLORS throughout.

Why? Because colors are as exciting to your Brain as are images. Colour adds extra vibrancy and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and is fun!

4. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second and third level branches to the first and second levels, etc.

Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.

5. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined.

Why? Because having nothing but straight lines is boring to your Brain.


Why? Because single keywords give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.

7. Use IMAGES throughout.

Why? Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes!


  • If a mind map is getting too big or complicated try splitting it.
  • Do not use long detailed sentences in mind maps. Using one word per line improves clarity and understanding. Using single keywords will make your mind maps more powerful and flexible.
  • Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.

How To Use Mindmapping Techniques In Software Testing?

Mind maps can be used in all the test stages from test planning to test case execution.

Mindmaps can be used for:

  • Test Planning
  • Requirement analysis
  • Impact analysis
  • Task allocation
  • Test case design
  • Traceability
  • Test reporting -Quick test reports

Test Planning

While test planning, you can draw an initial mindmap keeping in mind the list of tasks, schedules, tools, roles, responsibilities, milestones etc. Present the mindmap and discuss it with your stakeholders. Modify the mindmap if any changes are required. One thing you will love about mind maps is its flexibility to adapt to changes. All you might have to do is to add or remove a node/branch. This flexibility might not happen when you draw on a paper, but a mind mapping software assists any changes easily.

The final mind map shows you the scope of testing in one glance. This mindmap can be used as a blueprint and later converted into a plan. This ensures that no test activity is missed.

Mind Map of A Test Plan
Test Case Design

Mindmaps are an efficient way of creating lean test cases. It reduces the time required for creating test cases yielding better results. Mindmaps are very easy to maintain and are flexible to changing requirements.

Draw branches from every user story/epic and associate all its functionalities as sub-nodes. Start adding test ideas/test case for each functionality.

Test Case Design Mind map

I created a mindmap covering test ideas for the major functionality. My team started to expand the mindmap by branching out more and more test ideas. We kept adding new nodes when we found unique scenarios that uncovered the bugs during our test sessions. This drastically increased our test coverage.The final mindmap can be as the basis for test case document or it’s cool if it’s used as it is.

The best part of mind mapping is that you generate more ideas when drawing them. Collaborative mind mapping with the team gives you best results.

Traceability Mindmap

A traceability matrix is an essential tool for every tester to analyse and improvise the test coverage. You can use a mindmap instead of a tabular traceability matrix.

To create a traceability mindmap – add nodes of all the Epics. Draw branches from every module and associate all its user stories as subsequent nodes.  Now link the test cases for every functionality. You can link the requirement number of the test management tool.

This ensures that you have not missed out writing test cases for any user story. This mindmap gives you the birds-eye view of your test coverage. You can identify the areas where you need to strengthen your coverage.

software testing mindmap

You can use mind maps anywhere and everywhere!

Below is a mindmap for “App store compliance-iOS”:

App store mindmap


Tools For Mindmapping

There are tons of commercial and open-source tools that lets you visualize your ideas as a mindmap. I prefer the following tools:

  • Xmind (Windows/Mac/Linux)- Probably the most popular and free mindmapping tool.
  • Coogle (Web app) – Coogle is a web app that lets your team collaborate and work on a single mindmap.

The use of Test Coverage mind map are getting popular with agile testers and lean test practitioners.

Do you use mindmaps for testing? What do you use them for? Do you think a test coverage mind map is a good idea? I would love to hear your thoughts about this!


Looking for more? Why not look back at a previous webinar on mindmapping and test strategy presented by Fiona Charles or follow the link here for more resources Test Coverage

About the Author


Prashant Hegde is a passionate tester. He has ably led test teams to success in many organizations and helped them improve their application quality process. Prashant is an agile enthusiast and has worked in different roles on agile teams for the last five ten years. Prashant enjoys sharing his experiences by blogging and participating in agile communities around the world. Prashant is a Certified Scrum master and frequent speaker at industry conferences. Prashant has helped thousands of ISTQB aspirants to clear their certifications with his free app ISTQB test mentor. You can follow Prashant on his blog, website and on Twitter
Find out more about @prashant-hegde

Related Content