Brainstorming is a fundamental part of design thinking. Ideation sessions give teammates a chance to push their imaginations, build on each other’s innovations and create graphic representations (mindmaps) of their ideas.
All you truly need to make a brainstorming mindmap is a whiteboard and pad of Post-It notes. But for dispersed teams, or those who like a little extra technology, there are numerous free and low-cost mindmapping tools that can make it easy to capture, link and share new ideas.
Here are a few of our favorite mindmapping tools:
Wisemapping (free): This open source “mind mapping editor” lets users map ideas, add new content and share their diagrams with others. A quick YouTube tutorial explains how the tool works and how mindmaps can improve your ideation process.
Bubbl.us (free): A unique feature of this free mindmapping tool is its automatic branching. As users add ideas to their central bubble, the Bubbl.us tree automatically repositions itself to create a mindmap of bubbles, which can also be manually adjusted. In order to collaborate on the same tree, other team members must have their own Bubbl.us accounts.
Coggle (free/monthly rates depending on use): A great choice for remote collaborators, Coggle lets teams jointly create content, add notes, track changes, drag and drop images from their desktops and link images to demonstrate workflow.
Klaxoon ($10+ per month): A popular tool for brainstorming on the go, this mobile app lets teams capture ideas via text, drawings and word clouds, all on a virtual whiteboard. You can add links, post surveys and sort ideas for easy review. The ‘Klaxoon Networks’ feature lets you create private brainstorming groups without time or storage constraints. The software offers a free trial option.
Ayoa ($10-288+ per month): This powerful mindmapping tool lets you arrange ideas and create links between concepts, while adding images, files, notes and comments. It enables a more efficient workflow between ideation, testing and iteration. Educators get a discount.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.