Imagine that you’ve just secured funding for your new business venture. Still overwhelmed, you must plan a budget on your own since you have yet to hire an employee. The excitement is clouding your mind, rendering you at a loss on how to allocate budgets for the different departments.
Just as you’ve decided to randomly assign amounts, you suddenly remembered that you’ve learned mind mapping in business school! And so with a mind map, you were able to do the budgeting in a more efficient way than simply arbitrarily allocating amounts.
Mind mapping is a proven way to better absorb and manage ideas. It entails building upon one’s existing knowledge to systematically understand them to help make definitive plans of action. With these in mind, we’ve prepared this article on mind mapping software to offer some essential knowledge on this key business tool, including its features, types, and other important aspects.
What Is Mind Mapping Software?
Mind mapping software is a technology tool designed to facilitate various problem-solving and planning activities to create clear visual diagrams of concepts or plans. With this efficient mind map maker, individuals and groups can make any idea or concept map anytime, anywhere.
This type of software also covers various types of tools. From basic brainstorming solutions to advanced diagramming and data visualization platforms. In fact, mind mapping tools have been found useful in any of the following use cases:
- Business Intelligence. Gather live data from various business units and import them into mind mapping solution to create visual representations of sales charts, employee performance diagrams, etc.
- Problem-solving and brainstorming. Generate mind maps of business situations to help solve problems faster and identify better alternatives.
- Web design and software development. You can use these tools to build site maps and wireframe diagrams.
- Diagramming: Mind mapping solutions facilitate the creation of network diagrams, org charts, architectural plans, project timelines, engineering diagrams, and other technical or business diagrams.
List of Best Mind Mapping Software
These are today’s cream-of-the-crop mind mapping solutions when it comes to overall features, tools, pricing range, and other key software aspects.
- LucidChart. This is a widely-used online mind mapping solution designed for creating simple and complex mind maps and other business diagrams. It offers an extensive array of useful features that top organizations like DocuSign, Adobe, and Amazon use this tool in their day-to-day tasks. What’s more, LucidChart offers a free plan that already includes basic mind mapping and collaboration tools. Paid subscription packages start at $9.95 per user per month.
- SmartDraw. This is another popular mind mapping platform that helps businesses in their flowchart and diagram creation requirements. Companies everywhere use SmartDraw to help them to better plan strategies, manage projects, and document business processes. And with SmartDraw, users can make any type of diagram, whether its chart-based, graph-based, or schematic. Pricing starts at $297.
- MindMeister. Used by more than 7 million users worldwide, MindMeister is an online mind mapping solution that offers top-tier features for creating excellent business plans and conducting quality research. This award-winning mind mapping software is excellent for meeting management, presentation, planning, and brainstorming. It has a free-forever plan and three paid plans starting at $4.99 per month.
- Milanote. Probably the most user-friendly mind mapping tool in this list, Milanote is designed with a clean, smart interface that helps the creation of concept maps a breeze. It is also flexible that it can be used to create both simple and complex mind maps, including the integration of rich media. Its free version allows users to add 100 images, links, and notes. Finally, its premium plans start at $9.99 per user per month.
- Cacoo. This is a cloud-based mind mapping and diagram platform for individual users, groups, and businesses. It allows users to create various types of mind maps as well as offers both basic and advanced features such as revision history tracking, social media sharing, and in-app commenting. Cacoo offers three plans for individuals, teams, and enterprises, starting at $4.95 a month.
- XMind. This solution is a feature-packed mind mapping and brainstorming solution designed to simplify idea generation, creativity stimulation, and efficiency improvement. XMind doesn’t only help create awesome mind maps but also facilitates in-depth comparative analysis, milestone monitoring, and sequential schedule tracking. Professional plans start at $39.99 for 6 months.
- MindMup. This is a free cloud-based mind mapping tool that allows you to easily create, share, and publish mind maps anytime, anywhere. MindMup’s key features include a clean user interface, easy map conversion to various formats, and robust keyboard shortcuts. Premium individual user plans start at $2.99 a month.
- MindManager. This platform allows users to quickly transform ideas into visually engaging digital formats that help to easily identify what’s valuable, what must be acted upon, and what can be disregarded. Packed with numerous features, MindManager is designed to support individual creativity and team innovation. It offers a free trial, while its perpetual license for Windows is $349.
- iMindQ. This solution integrates numerous mind map designs, styles, and features that make it a good choice for personal, business, and academic use. iMindQ’s innovative technology empowers users to offer a unique way to visualize, systematize, and present ideas. It also comes with a free trial and an annual subscription plan at $49.
- SimpleMind. A popular cross-platform mind mapping solution. Its unique free lay-out allows users to easily represent and organize their concepts as close as how they thought about them. It’s also simple to add images, videos, and other rich media to its mind maps. It has a free version and its single-user, Professional lifetime license for Windows starts at €24.99.
Types of Mind Mapping Software
Mind maps are mainly used in the early stage of a project or program to analyze the subject or solve problems. According to different purposes, mind maps can be classified into 3 types:
Library Mind Maps
This type of mind map is primarily used for systematically organizing concepts and other information to provide you with a clear and visual understanding of the subject, without leaving out anything. Also called reference maps, library mind maps are meant to organize and sort out the gathered information, to allow better understanding.
Presentation Mind Maps
Used for presenting ideas and projects, this type of mind map is used for presenting the background of a concept to an audience. Presentation mind maps are also used to show how a project will be carried out so as to allow the monitoring of the procedures. Moreover, this type of mind map focuses on enabling the understanding of an audience, not about the topic.
Tunnel Timeline Mind Maps
This type of mind map involves organizing or making a project plan. Tunnel timeline mind maps are primarily utilized for helping in problem-solving, and for creating a program plan or a project strategy. Likewise, this type of mind map is created for reaching an objective by visualizing a successful solution to a problem or implementation of a project.
Main Features of Mind Mapping Software
Mind mapping solutions are heaven-sent, especially for forward-thinking and dynamic organizations. And since problem-solving and planning are among the core activities of any business enterprise, these tools are applicable across industries and in any workplace situation.
Here are the common features of mind mapping software:
- Idea collection. Brainstorming for creative ideas is one of the main reasons why mind mapping was created. Powered by technology, idea-collection has become more efficient and accelerated.
- Project planning. This is another major reason why mind mapping solutions were made. With these tools, project planning activities can be more productive and effective unlike when using manual methods.
- Real-time creation. These tools allow mind maps to be created and revised in real-time. This facilitates productivity among work teams and collaborators.
- Concept organization. Ideas, plans, and concepts are difficult to understand and share when they remain abstract. Mind mapping software offers a powerful way to make concepts organized and understandable.
- Collaboration. These tools also help work and project teams better collaborate with each other.
- Mobile support. Users can continue with designing, sharing, or commenting on mind maps even when they’re outside the office.
- File importing and exporting. Because of extensive integration, mind maps are now saved in various file formats to allow seamless importing and exporting, even among multiple devices.
- Fluidity. Mind map solutions offer writing and editing tools that are intuitive and user-friendly. This helps users to seamlessly convert their ideas into visually-understandable mind maps.
- Template diversity. Today’s vendors offer pre-made hundreds of templates that address almost every thinkable situation or application.
- Key metrics and KPIs. This helps businesses to closely monitor core business metrics and performance indicators. With these data, actionable insights can be derived and acted upon.
Top Benefits of Mind Mapping Software
There are numerous benefits that mind mapping tools offer to users, especially in a workplace setting. Here are some of those:
- Increased creativity. An industry study found that mind mapping software helps increase employee productivity by as much as 30%. The same study found that this solution facilitates divergent thinking.
- Time savings. With built-in mind mapping elements, automation, and other features, these tools allow business users to save time.
- More efficient brainstorming. With intuitive mind mapping solutions at your disposal, any team can conduct better brainstorming sessions during meetings or when making business plans.
- High employee morale. Special technology tools like mind mapping don’t only benefit organizations but also fosters growth and enthusiasm among individual employees.
- Improved productivity. This tool enhances the workplace efficiency of individual employees and teams. This is because it helps people get more things done than before, especially with better problem-solving skills.
Latest Trends in Mind Mapping Software
Mind mapping vendors regularly come up with new features and other innovations in their software offerings. Here are some of the most important trends in mind mapping technology:
Extensive Support for Collaboration
In the past, mind mapping tools are typically static, dull, and non-responsive, which stifles productivity, especially among work and project teams. Nowadays, top-of-the-line mind mapping tools (such as those listed here) are dynamic and responsive. As such, team members can easily make comments direct on mind maps, while potential customers can annotate revision notes.
There’s practically no form of technology that remains untouched by AI, and that’s true with mind maps. For instance, an AI agent could automatically search for and provide relevant resources to researchers. It will do so using its machine learning capability on a researcher’s preferences and requirements.
Online storage via the Cloud
Mind mapping solutions now allow users to store their mind maps in their vendor’s cloud storage facilities. This provides quick and easy access and supports team productivity. Other stakeholders like prospective clients can also access mind map proposals when given the proper access credentials.
All software solutions, even those used for solving problems like mind mapping, is free from issues. Below are the most common ones that mind mapping tool users experience:
Long learning curve
Anyone can use a spreadsheet program, but only those with financial training know the nitty-gritty aspects of budgeting and bookkeeping. The same is true with mind maps since learning how to use the technology is not the same as knowing the intricacies of this problem solving and planning method.
When used for collaboration involving internal and external parties, like any cloud-based technologies, the security of your business documents (in this case, your mind maps) becomes vulnerable to breaches. In this regard, it is best to follow strict security protocols to ensure the safety of your data and files.
Creative and technical challenges
Even when using the most user-friendly mind mapping tools, not all employees or team members assigned to make mind maps can complete the tasks trouble-free. This is why some companies are providing additional training sessions to allow employees to learn the rudiments of mind maps.
How to Choose the Right Mind Mapping Software for Your Business
There are many mind mapping software in the market nowadays and each of them has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Here are some expert-selected factors to consider before deciding which solution is best for your business:
- Ease of use. Prioritize a solution’s user-friendliness because this helps reduce the learning curve as well as facilitate productivity.
- Requirements. Make a shortlist of your particular mind mapping needs to guide you in your search. Include the specific types of mind mapping your business uses, such as for making library mind maps, presentation mind maps, etc.
- Features and functionality. It is important to spend time to really examine the complete offerings of each mind mapping software to know the one with the best fit for your specific requirements.
- User interface. An efficient mind mapping tool should be designed with an interface that is clean and easy-to-use and helps simplify any mind mapping.
- Budget. This is the final and also among the most important buying factor. Choose the solution that fits your budget.