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Compare The 10 Best Mind Mapping Software of 2019

By 10/04/2019 No Comments

I always emphasize the importance of understanding a project’s underlying strategy and purpose before starting to divvy up tasks (we cover this in detail in our DPM training course—and one of the ways you can build this understanding is by using mind mapping software.

Wait a minute, Ben—what does mind mapping have to do with project management?

That’s a great question. Even though drawing mind maps or doing visual brainstorming isn’t part of the standard project management lifecycle, it probably should be.

Long before you dive into writing a Statement of Work, project managers can use mind maps to solidify the strategy and big ideas behind each undertaking. Creating a mindmap can help you catch, capture, and connect new ideas. Additionally, it can help you categorize the parts of a project and break down complex projects in a visually intuitive way.

Read on to learn about mind mapping software. First, learn what it is and what functionality it offers. Then, see how to choose the mind map software that best fit your working style, budget, and goals. There are dozens of mind mapping tools out there, so I’ve tried to save you time by providing a summary, score, and basic info for each tool to get you started.

Mind Mapping Software Logo SoupWhat Is Mind Mapping Software?

Mind mapping software (also called concept mapping software) is a brainstorming tool that enables you to create visual diagrams of your ideas. Using a mind map maker, you can create an idea map, a conceptual map that illustrates the hierarchy and connections between different ideas.

Mind mapping software ranges from simple brainstorming apps to complex data visualization and diagramming tools. Mind mapping tools can be useful in any of the following use cases:

  • Brainstorming: Create mind maps—visually organize and present ideas.
  • Diagramming: Create engineering diagrams, project timelines, architectural plans, org charts, network diagrams, and other business or technical diagrams.
  • Software development and web design: Create wireframes and site map diagrams.
  • Business Intelligence: Import and visualize live data from business applications in charts, diagrams, etc.

Learn more about mind maps, how to create a mind map, and how mind map software works below.

What Is A Mind Map? What Is Mind Mapping?

A mind map is a conceptual web showing the relationship between ideas. Here’s a simple example of a mind map:

Mind Mapping Software - Mind Map

Mind mapping is a brainstorming process and creative exercise that results in a mind map.

How To Make A Mind Map

Because mind mapping is a creative exercise, your process for making a mind map will differ depending on your personal preferences, tools, and project at hand.  There is no “one right way” to do mindmapping, but if you’re using a mind map app, you’ll follow a process like this:

  1. Begin with a blank canvas.
  2. Add a central node—your central idea or theme.
  3. Brainstorm sub-ideas or related ideas, adding them to the canvas.
  4. Draw lines to connect ideas and represent the relationship between ideas. Drag and drop the elements to re-organize your ideas as you add to the map.
  5. Use formatting tools to visually organize and display your information—change colors and size, add icons and images, etc.

Why Use Mind Mapping Software?

Mind maps are great tools for understanding and communicating ideas because we humans are visual creatures and we process visual information very quickly.

Of course, you can create a mind map on a piece of paper, but using mindmap software has several advantages, such as:

  • No size limitation: you’re not limited to the size of your paper.
  • Flexibility: you can easily re-organize ideas by clicking and dragging.
  • Co-creation: in software that allows you to create a mind map online, you can often have multiple users collaborating on the same mind map.
  • Visual presentation: you can use the formatting tools to create professional diagrams that you can quickly share and present.

Still not convinced of the benefits of brainstorming tools? A survey from the Mind Map Software Blog found that online mind map software can increase your pace of work by 44%, boost creativity by 30%, and free up 7 hours a week of users’ time.

Mind Mapping Software Benefits
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The Best Mind Mapping Software

To start, these are the top mind mapping tools that I included in this mind mapping software review. Find a summary chart and detailed description of each below.

  1. MindGenius – https://www.mindgenius.com/
  2. SmartDraw – https://www.smartdraw.com
  3. Miro – https://miro.com
  4. Slickplan – https://slickplan.com/diagram
  5. Lucidchart – https://www.lucidchart.com/
  6. Coggle – https://coggle.it/
  7. XMind – https://www.xmind.net/
  8. MindManager – https://www.mindjet.com/
  9. Mindomo – https://www.mindomo.com/
  10. Microsoft Visio – https://products.office.com/en-ca/visio/flowchart-software

The Best Mind Mapping Software

Mind Mapping Software - featured image

Here are a few of the best mind mapping software available today. Below, you can read about what they offer, how they’re different, and what types of projects they’re best suited for.

Mind Genius logo - mind mapping software

Score:
  • 9.5

  • free 14-day trial
  • $160 in the 1st yr
  • $56 year two onwards

1. MindGenius – https://www.mindgenius.com/

MindGenius is a combination of a concept map creator and a project planning tool. It’s designed for use in educational settings as well as for freelancers, small businesses, and agencies.

Mindgenius - online mind maps

MindGenius’ suite includes drag-and-drop mind map creation, along with project planning features like Gantt charts, kanban task views, and some basic project reporting tools. They include several features for making mind maps more useful, with filtering, highlighting, and labelling tools to help you organize and present your mind maps effectively. MindGenius also integrates with Microsoft Office, so you can easily export project data and mind maps to Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint and Microsoft Project.

Overall, MindGenius is a useful brainstorming tool that helps you convert your mind maps from simple brainstorming documents into tools for managing your projects and business. They consistently roll out cool new features; most recently, their MindGenius 2019 version offers ways to share information with others with integration to MindGenius Online, Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox, One Drive and Google.

MindGenius offers two pricing models – Perpetual and Subscription.  Perpetual is $256, Subscription is $160 in year one followed by $56 annually from year 2 onwards. A subscription includes upgrades to all future revisions of MindGenius.

Summary of MindGenius:

  1. Real-time collaborative drawing: made possible with export to MindGenius Online
  2. Easy file attachments: Pass
  3. Presentation & sharing tools: Pass
  4. Integrations: Pass
Score: 9.5
Smartdraw logo - mind mapping software

Score:
  • 10

  • free trial
  • $5.95/user/month

2. SmartDraw – https://www.smartdraw.com

SmartDraw is positioned as an alternative to tools like Microsoft Visio, claiming to be much easier for the layman to use while being just as powerful and more affordable. That’s a big claim to live up to, and while it’s not significantly more affordable (at $5.95/user/month it’s comparable to Visio’s $6.40/user/month), it does provide an intuitive interface with useful features that are applicable to essentially any industry, from landscaping and design to IT.

SmartDraw screenshot - mind map software

SmartDraw provides users with more than 4500 templates for over 70 different types of diagrams, including flowcharts, infographics, landscape designs, decision trees, timelines, mind maps, engineering and CAD diagrams, and much more. It offers collaborative drawing online so users can work on the same diagrams at the same time, with an intelligent formatting engine that makes automatic adjustments to maintain your diagram’s arrangement. SmartDraw integrates with MS Office, Google apps, Jira, Confluence, DropBox, Box, WordPress, and Trello.

Overall, SmartDraw is a powerful tool, a strong competitor to the likes of Microsoft Visio and arguably more intuitive for the average user to navigate. Like in the case of Visio, enterprise teams are the users who will get the most out of its many advanced features.

SmartDraw costs from $5.95/user/month on a plan with 5+ users, or $9.95/user/month for a single user.

Summary of SmartDraw:

  1. Real-time collaborative drawing: Pass
  2. Easy file attachments: Pass
  3. Presentation & sharing tools: Pass
  4. Integrations: Pass
Score: 10