10 Free Brainstorming Apps and Tools to Spark Innovation

The key to brainstorming isn't just getting as many people as possible in a room so they can collaborate on the greatest ideas ever. It requires a bit more work to get the most out of your brainstorming session.

Sometimes, the best brainstorming sessions are accompanied by a simple tool that allows you to record and visualize the progress of ideas. This allows your team to see the flow of ideas and gives more context around next steps.

If you're already familiar with the rules of brainstorming, it's time to start looking at some virtual collaboration tools to help unleash your team's creativity.

Brainstorming tools

Bubbl.us

This web-based mind mapping app allows you to build, save, and share up to three mind maps on the free plan. This straightforward tool makes it easy to start brainstorming from almost any device (since there's no need to download anything) and turn those ideas into useful presentations. You can try out their paid plans by starting a 30-day free trial.

Coggle

This tool lets you create and share intricate mind maps. From complex brainstorming to simple ideation, Coggle provides a space where you can build and download diagrams so your ideas will always be accessible and actionable.

Freeplane

Built in Java, Freeplane is an open-source application that can freely position, order, classify, group, or connect any node. Style the map using shapes, colors, and edge type.

You can structure nodes in terms of content, such as text, formula, icon, image, hyperlink, or even at a hierarchical level. Protect your mind maps by adding a password, or share and collaborate on them using the drag and drop, search, and publishing features.

LucidChart

LucidChart provides a powerful and easy-to-use flow chart maker that helps create professional diagrams for visual collaboration. You can start from scratch, or pick from their variety of templates. Integrations include G Suite, Confluence, and Jira, and you can pull content from sources like YouTube, Dropbox, and Facebook as well.

Mind42

This tool may not be the most visually appealing, but it gets the job done. Mind42 allows you to build simple diagrams in your web browser and share them with others. Very basic functionality—good for high-level brainstorming.

Mind Maps

Mind Maps is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to create your own mind map and save it directly to your Google Drive. 

Popplet

Popplet is the simplest tool to capture your thoughts and ideas. Because it's extremely visual, utilizing images and diagrams to build projects, it's highly useful in both offices and classrooms. Multiple people can access the same project within Popplet, where they can build presentations, include tags, and categorize projects all within the tool. A mobile app is also available for iOS users.

Wisemapping

Another web-based, collaborative tool, Wisemapping offers a free mind mapping tool for teams and individuals. If there's a feature you'd like to add to make the solution better, they offer a sponsorship program where you can fund or raise money to build the new feature.

MURAL

MURAL is a great tool for remote teams, giving everyone an equal voice in the brainstorming session, no matter where they're based. You can communicate your ideas with images and GIFs, and there's a great private mode feature that allows you to facilitate breakout rooms during your sessions.

 

Visual Thesaurus

For solo brainstorming, this neat online search engine allows you to enhance your associative thinking. Once you search a term, the tool spews out a word map with words associated with the search term. The map groups words that are similar, so you can easily see how words relate to each other.

 

Now that you've selected your brainstorming app, it's time to learn some techniques! Check out these 7 Techniques for More Effective Brainstorming

How Wrike can help your team with their next brainstorming session

Wrike's collaborative platform is a great place to set up your next brainstorming session. As a shared, all-in-one space that updates in real time, Wrike brings your team together, whether they're dispersed or working remotely. What's more, after your session has come up with some great ideas, you can use custom request forms to get the ball moving, ensuring that each task is assigned to the right person, every time. Try it out yourself with a two-week free trial.

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