Mind maps are incredibly useful for organising your thoughts. Whether it is for a school assignment or an important business project they are one of the most effective business tools. However, the traditional pen and paper approach is hardly the most appropriate for project managers. It is hard to make changes, paper can become lost or damaged, and it is hardly the most shareable form of information. Luckily, there are now a number of free tools that allow you to create virtual mind maps that can be colour coded, edited and shared as you wish. Here are some of the best:
The first application is Software as a Service – no downloading involved! You create your mind maps straight on the web page and can then print or export them as you wish. If you want to save your maps to come back to in the future or share with friends then you have to create an account and log in.
The creation process is very simple and keyboard shortcuts are available to help you get your thoughts down quickly. Control + Enter opens a new box below your highlighted box, Tab opens a new box to the right. This can lead to rapid evolution of your mind map.
The shortcut and the online capabilities are the main advantages of Bubbl.us. Only being able to work downwards and lengthways and not being able to set colours reduces the functionality somewhat.
Blumind is a downloadable tool that prides itself on its interface. It really is the key of usability and design. Themes can be assigned to maps to distinguish information however you like. There is tab functionality so that you can use more than one map at one and the map is also broken down into a folder view (like using Windows Explorer to find files).
A very useful tool for managing projects is the ability to assign progress bars to topics and objects. This makes the mind maps shareable as project managers can use them to keep stakeholders up to scratch on project progress.
You can also expand and collapse topics to improve visibility.
Open Mind combines mind mapping with the simplicity of tools like Paint and also allows for image and YouTube integration. Each bubble can contain text, images of YouTube videos. Font can be edited however you like and the integration of video and images give Open Mind a lot of potential for visualisation of projects.
While it may not have all the bells and whistles of Blumind, Open Mind is buoyed by its simplicity and with a bit of tweaking can look just as professional as the others.