Exploring ideas or finding creative solutions requires identifying a link between ideas and the available information. A holistic understanding of the problem allows the assigned team to find the best solution for the problem or to innovate creative ideas. Mind Mapping is one of the common tools that are used by designers to explore ideas during brainstorming sessions. Mind Mapping depends on building a visual map from the available information to create links between what is related. This visual linkage helps designers to relate seemingly different information and, subsequently, be able to evaluate the problem and explore solutions.
Mind mapping usually starts with main ideas and then expands to include related information and build a link between this data to result in different branches that may connect with each other. Our previous article How to Use Mind Mapping for Better Thinking provides a step-by-step practice to build a Mind Map for ideas. Different tools can be used in the Mind Mapping process such as the following:
- Use sticky notes on a white board and draw links between ideas using erasable markers. This tool is commonly used inside companies and schools.
- Draw the mind map using paper and colored pens. This tool allows the designer to be creative and build innovative, even three-dimensional, mind maps.
- Use mind map templates to write out your ideas. While this tool is not flexible, our Designorate Mind Map Template tends to solve this problem by providing a number of shapes and connectors that can be downloaded, printed, and used during design thinking sessions.
- Online and software tools that allow designers to visualize ideas through a number of digital tools and features.
While most of the tools require preparation with pens and notes, the online and software mind mapping tools allow designers to brainstorm ideas using computers, tablets, and mobile photos. This promotes Mind Mapping software to one of the easiest tools to visualize ideas and problems. Below is a list of paid and free Mind Mapping tools that can be used either on computers or mobile devices.
This tool was developed by Tony Buzan, the founder of the term “mind maps.” The application is a web based tool that provides templates for idea blocs, branches, and shapes that can be customized using different colors and preset options. It can be even be used to create an animated presentation of the mind map sessions. The application is supported with a tablet and mobile version for both iOS and Android and uses the cloud service. Your mind maps can be synced with all your devices so you can view and edit any saved Mind Map easily from any device. The price for the home and student version of the iMindMap is around $100 and the professional Ultimate package is $310.
SpiderScribe is another Mind Mapping tool that also includes administrative features such as connecting notes with calendar events. This tool uses the cloud services to sync between the web-based account and other devices such as iPhone and iPad. The price for this tool ranges between $5 and $25 per month based on each package feature.
XMind is another web-based Mind Mapping application that is remarkable with its clear design and easy-to-use interface. The tool supports a wide range of templates and shapes that can be used when drawing the mind map. Furthermore, it supports saving mind maps to Evernote for presenting and sharing it with your team. XMind is available in both a free and paid pro version. The free version has limited features but allows you create all kinds of mind maps, save to Evernote, and share online. The pricing for the pro version ranges between $79 to $129.
Coggle is a simple Mind Mapping tool that can be used through a web browser, though it does not include sophisticated features when compared with other competitors’ tools. Coggle allows you to draw Mind Maps, take notes, and share your visualized ideas with your team. There are two versions of the software, a free version and a paid version for $5 per month for individuals and $8 per month for organizations.
Text2MindMap is an online Mind Mapping tool that does not require logging in or creating an account. It is a very simple and straight-forward tool to create mind maps. The tree of ideas is written in text format and the tool starts to build the idea branches based on this text.
Mindmeister provides a tool for Mind Mapping and collaborating with your team. The simple interface allows quick Mind Map building and easily embeds interactive maps for website pages. Additionally, it includes task management features and exporting of the mind map to different formats, including PDF and MS Word. It is supported on both iOS and Android devices. Mindmeister is available for free with a limit of 3 mind maps. The paid versions ranges between $36 to $90 for 6 months of use.
WiseMapping is a free online tool that can be used for both personal and commercial projects. It is easy to use and can be run through any web browser without a plugin requirement. It supports basic features and includes the option to import and export mind maps.
Poppet is a web-based and iPad Mind Mapping tool. The iPad application costs around $4.99 and is designed for both companies and schools to teach students a method of brainstorming. In addition to the mind map features, it includes other tools such as diagrams, process charts, mood boards, scrapbook, and travel plans.
MindMap is an extension that can be installed in the Chrome browser and it provides a free and easy tool to build Mind Maps. The created Mind Maps can be saved on your local computer or in the cloud; they can also be printed and exported as images. In addition to the MindMap, there are three other Chrome extensions including Connected Mind and MindMup.
Bubble is a web-based Mind Mapping tool that is available for free with a limit of three mind maps or a monthly payment of $6. The tool is simple and straight forward to use with an iOS version that can be installed from App Store.
Although digital Mind Mapping is less creative than paper drawing, it extends the teams’ capabilities through a number of features and tools such as saving Mind Maps on the cloud service, sharing Mind Maps in the form of presentations or through applications such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive.
Mind Mapping is one of the most efficient methods in creative thinking for designers and professionals; it helps the team to think better and have a broader understanding of problems in order to achieve innovative solutions. Mind Mapping is also used in schools to help students unleash their creativity in an organized flow of ideas. The online Mind Mapping tools can help individuals and teams to focus on creative thinking rather than wasting time in preparing materials and tools for the brainstorming session.