Lately, I’ve been getting a growing number of messages from readers of this blog, asking specific questions about mind mapping software. I recently realized that the questions they’re asking may very well be shared by many of you. So here are some of the most recent ones, along with my advice:
Software for process mapping
Doug: I was asked today to recommend a software tool to help a company map out the work processes for its advertising executives. The reflexive response was “Visio.” However, something gnawing away inside me suggests this might be a good mind mapping application. Have I lost my marbles and entered the realm where everything looks like a mind mapping application? If I haven’t lost my mind could you suggest a place where I could turn to demonstrate this makes sense?
Chuck: If you’re planning projects, then mind mapping software can be an excellent “front end” tool to help organize them. On the other hand, if what you’re doing is purely business process mapping, then I’d recommend Visio or SmartDraw, which is a great, less expensive alternative.
Stuart: I don’t recall seeing much about ConceptDraw MINDMAP, yet I have it on my Mac and like it better than others I have used including MindMatters. Are you familiar with it?
Chuck: Yes, I am. It’s a good program, which I last reviewed here. It is powerful enough to handle the needs of most business users, plus it enables you to do some unique things as far as adding vector-based drawings to your maps – because ConceptDraw MINDMAP is produced by the same developer as the powerful ConceptDraw vector illustration program.
Which mind mapping software is best for me?
Jawn: I’m lost in this ocean of choices. Do you have a guide on which software is best suited for me?
Chuck: Yes, there are too many mind mapping software programs on the market today, with more being introduced on a regular basis. The best software for you depends upon what you want to get done. Some programs are better suited for brainstorming, while others have some strengths in the area of project management. I would start with a clear picture of what you want to DO, then download the trial versions of the programs that are focused on those areas. You really need to do this in order to figure out which one is the best match for your workflow. If you’re completely new to the concept of mind mapping, you may want to start out with a free program like FreeMind or XMIND, or one of the new genre of web-based mind mapping tools, which are free or available at an inexpensive subscription fee. You can find reviews of many of the best mind mapping tools here and a comprehensive list of links to these tools on the resources page of this blog.
Boundaries for non-contiguous topics
Glen: Do you know of any mindmapping software that enables you to draw a “cloud” around topics in more than one parent link? (in other words, a cloud that extends across several branches that may not be adjacent to one another in your map).
Chuck: No, unfortunately, I don’t know of any mind mapping tool that is capable of doing this. As I understand it, what you want to do is show that these disparate topics are related. You can accomplish this using relationship lines.
Send me your questions
Got a question for me? You can submit it using the contact form on this blog.