MindMeister is an intuitive web-based mind mapping application developed by MeisterLabs. The company came into existence in the year 2006 when Michael Hollauf and Till Vollmer brainstormed their ideas to create this brainstorming software.
- Predefined Templates: For creating your own mind map you don’t need to start from scratch. You can choose predefine mind mapping templates according to the desired layout.
- Easy to use: The application doesn’t require much effort for learning. All the aspects can be discovered within no time. You can also go through the video tutorials that they offer.
- Various Integrations for importing files: You can upload an image or document from your local drive or add it through Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive.
- MeisterTask: You can integrate MeisterTask with MindMeister. MeisterTask can be used for project management or task tracking purposes. It is a very decent alternative of Trello, Infact you'll find few things better than that of Trello.
- History and Revert Feature: For checking the whole process that leads to the final mind map, history feature can be used. You can choose to move back to any particular step and delete all the changes made after that step.
- Presentation Mode: MindMeister allows you to present the generated mind map as a presentation where you can create as many slides as you want.
- Adding mind map to the public library: You can make the mind map available for all the users. That would help to flourish your idea. You can select whether you permit other users to make changes to your mind map or not.
- Convert text into mind maps: If you create content having bullet-list with different list levels on Google Docs, and import it using MindMeister, it will automatically create a mind map according to the list levels.
- Embedding Mind Maps to a website: Using the “share” option, you get an embed code which you can paste to the editor of the website or blog, and it will seamlessly appear on the webpage.
- Real-time collaboration: You can invite other users to your mind map editor even if they do not have an account. The instant changes that you make become visible to your collaborators.
- The customizable linking: The connecting curve between two different mind map levels is customizable. They permit to change it with different colors and styles. However, we are not sure if it is possible to customize one particular connecting curve out of all.
- Overall Price may not be affordable for higher plans: When a user purchases Pro or Business plan, it would be because of the team management features. However, these plans are costlier, and charges according to the number of users.
- No Sorting or Filtering options for templates: Although templates are categorized, adding further options to filter and sort the templates would make it easier for the user to reach the required template.
- Secure Backup only available for Business Plan: Secure backup makes sure that even if you lose your data, you have a way to restore it. However, it can only be done for Business plan, and no such feature is available for other plans.
- No option to upload video from the local drive: You can type a URL or browse videos from the top video provider websites to add them, but you can’t upload it directly from your system.
Dedicated Uses of MindMeister
Initially, MindMeister may appear to be a basic mind map creator with a few customization options. But as you move from the learning stage to the pro level, several features will emerge serving manifold purposes.
Delivering an application which is just based on mind mapping- is it really required? In this review, we will investigate the essentiality of the presence of this application.
Furthermore, we will try to find the reason(s) that what made ten million users use this application.
Before we start discussing the program, it is imperative to check the targeted audience of the application and how they utilize mind mapping practice.
Expanding the “Common Uses” tab existing on MindMeister’s website provided us with the screen containing these six uses:
As the reader scans all six points, he will realize that the MindMeister emphasizes three points: Visualizing ideas, outlining plans, and collaboration with others.
This cloud software has features, all based on these points. They have targeted audience which entails implementing the aforesaid points in their daily life: personal or professional.
Belonging to a prolific field makes it necessary to visualize the ideas. There could be several thoughts passing through the mind every single moment.
It is, however, not possible to remember them all. That time mind mapping or putting your thoughts in an arranged format might save some of the ideas.
A project’s success depends on its management, and proper management owns one main pillar- Planning. Is it possible to use MindMeister for creating project outlines?
According to them, it is possible, and it can be done efficiently. The review contains a guest appearance of MeisterTask which is a project management software that can be integrated with MindMeister.
The third point: collaboration implies team management and sharing of information in the form of mind maps with others.
As teachers and students are a part of targeted consumers, you can consider it as an example where one needs to share information in an understandable format with others.
The review will unbiasedly explain what MindMeister offers to achieve the attention of its potential customers.
However, if you are one of their potential customers, we won’t let you get attracted that easily. Along with the positives, we always bring you the negatives.
You will get familiar with every inch of the application. And in the end, if you find yourself as one of the potential users which we described above, and wish to try MindMeister, you will get the information about various plans also.
Comparison Between Various Plans
The provider has offered various plans on the basis of the features available on the application. Most of the customization options for mapping are available for all four plans: Free, Personal, Pro, and Business.
The Free plan remains free for lifetime, but you can only create up to three mind maps. Although there are extensive features available on the application, because only three minds are permitted, you would not be able to use the application for a long time.
However, it is the most suitable option to judge the working of the application. Surprisingly, the integrating with MisterTask, which we mentioned earlier, is available on the Free plan.
Also, the Presentation mode which we are going to discuss under the Editor Section is made available. You can at least test the feature, but you can’t export the presentation.
There is a huge gap between the functionality of the Free plan and the Personal one. The Personal plan opens the gateway for several attributes related to customer support, content recovery, and a few more map enhancement tools.
We will deliver a detailed review of each feature in their respective sections.
The name, Personal plan itself implies that choosing it would not offer you enough options to use the application for commercial purpose.
You can use it to improve your understanding and create mind maps for your own usage.
Pro pack adds team management features and 12/5 customer support. It is beneficial for a group or a small-scale industry that requires to discuss ideas.
However, when a large number of users need to share the application, annoyance can be the only result. Therefore, some advanced management options are required which are only present in the Business section.
The company that has different departments consists of a large number of employees requires this plan. The advanced team control opens the possibility of creating subgroups, adding custom team domain, and multiple administrators.
Here, no discount is offered even if you consider buying the plans for more than a month or a year. The account created will be charged every month irrespective of the minds maps created using it.
Additionally, the charge increases as the number of accounts increase. At the time when we were reviewing the product, the price is $12.49 for the highest plan.
$12.49 per month seems to be an affordable price. However, the final bill that you receive at the end of the month may not look payable even when you exclude the taxes.
For instance, consider that there is a team of ten members with whom you wish to collaborate while using the product. That means you need to purchase access for ten users. If you consider buying the Business plan, the total price would $124.9 per month which makes it expensive.
Remember that when you are the only one who is going to use MindMeister, it would be needless to purchase the Business plan as its highlighted feature is the team collaboration.
In such a case, when there is no team, you can select the Personal plan. One thing that you must remember, you will not get custom styles, boundaries, and themes in the Personal plan.
Also, the secure back up is only provided for the Business plan users. This could have been provided to at least the Personal plan, if not for the Free plan. Security is important for everyone’s data.
As you know various features and drawbacks of all plans, you can choose one amongst them if you find the review positive.
Mind Map Dashboard and Template Library
When someone designs a mind map from Mindmiester, the dashboard appears the first.
Its various elements can be reached through the dashboard such as the editor, template library, various plans, settings, etc. These elements are further divided into features which we are going to discuss in the upcoming sections.
MindMeister’s dashboard owns the title of the simplest user interface providing easy paths to access the mind mapping attributes.
From the dashboard, you can go to the saved maps; know about the team members who have access to a mind map, and when that map was modified last.
As we have mentioned that the application is intuitive, you can simply click on the saved mind map to open it on the editor.
As you can observe, there are a few more tabs present on the dashboard. These options make the access to the required feature easy.
The “Recents” tab shows the latest modified maps, so when you continue working on the last modified map, you can directly open it from this tab.
Instead of adding a separate section, they could have added sorting features: most recent, oldest templates first, sort by levels, and many more such arranging options can improve the map search.
While you work to create designs, layout, sketches, or anything similar to that, some of all the created content is considered as best works. Those works can be added to the “Favorites” section.
Some of the mind maps can be good enough that you wish to share them with the public. As you made them public using the dashboard’s public tab, they move to MindMeister's public library.
Everyone would be able to see and download the generated map. You can choose if you wish to allow them to edit the map. That gives flexibility to other users who wish to come to your mappings.
Till now, we have talked about the categories under which the best ones appear. There is a special place for the worst ones also- Trash.
You can move any of the unwanted maps to this section. However, if you wish to restore the generated map, it will not be possible when you are using the Free version.
When you try to create a Mind map from scratch, it may consume your time when you require drawing input boxes for the texts and generating links.
There are infinite ways by which a user can generate a mind map. Although it is not possible for MindMeister to generate all the possible templates, they have offered many basic templates which can be easily modified by the user.
When there are very few templates, the drawback is to the availability of the required one. When there are a lot of templates, the issue is to identify the required template amongst all the options.
For solving this problem, they have categorized the template library on the basis of templates purpose, i.e., according to the field to which it is related.
Still, even after categorization, searching amongst the several layouts would take a lot of time. Instead of using templates, an option to auto-generate the templates is possible.
Consider the possibility that you just need to add the number of branches and sub-branches. For color options, they can let the user input the color for various sections such as background, boundary, filling, etc. It is possible to customize the whole template at once, but you can’t the number of branches and subbranches.
After it is introduced, it will reduce the time as well as make it easier for the user to generate mind maps.
In spite of all, dashboard efficiently houses all your created content which can be easily accessed anytime by you or whom you provide the right to view or edit the created content.
Mind Map Editor
The MindMeister’s editor is the space which allows the user to generate his ideas into mind maps using the tools provided. It is MindMeister’s core whose functionality directly affects the variety of mind maps that can be created.
It is also important to check how easy is it to use the features and how the features widen the diversity of the mind maps.
We practically checked the time it consumes to create a mind map. The above image contains a basic mind map design which was created in less than a minute.
However, when you wish to create a customized mind map having a huge structure, it may take a few more minutes; still, can’t complain about the fast output.
Initially, the root topic, i.e., the central text box is only available, and from that point, you need to start working on your mind map.
Now we must provide you with information about how we designed it for less than a minute. That would support our statement.
All you need to do is to click anywhere on the design area, and input box will appear known as the sibling topic. You just need to enter the data as the link between the root topic and sibling topic is generated automatically.
Similarly, you can create more branches by selecting a sibling topic and pressing the Tab key. This efficient technique uplifts the user experience as it is easy as well as time-efficient.
We will just give a mention that the app has the basic features: font size, type, color, etc., are made available which can be used in the usual way. You can also change the shapes of the border of the text boxes.
Provision of adding symbols, icons, and emojis let the user indicate the status and priority. For instance, you add a list of tasks related to your work. You can use the red dot to indicate the incomplete tasks and green to indicate the complete ones.
In our opinion, using these options is easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Therefore, we can’t doubt about the ease of use.
Generally, the applications prefer to add Integration for providing additional features rather than implementing those features as its part, which helps them to maintain simplicity.
For creating images on your own, there is an inbuilt sketching tool. Although it is provided within the application, there is no decrement in the UI.
Other than this, there is an image library from where you can download and add images to any of the boxes. You can also choose to browse the images from the web.
The sketching tool we are talking about is not a full-fledged one; it only renders some basic tools. You can draw using pencil, line, or spray, add colors to them and alter the opacity.
When you need to draw a detailed sketch, you can’t do it through MindMeister. The only way to add detailed drawings: use an external sketching tool, save it as an image, and import it from the local drive.
For adding videos, we did not find an option to upload it from local drive, perhaps it is absent or hidden somewhere. In case it is missing, they must implement this option. For now, you can upload the video to the web and add the URL to MindMeister.
One of the main aims of the application is to let the users brainstorm and discuss various ideas to find conclusions.
There are some exclusive features added to support this aim which we are going to discuss next.
There is an options window where you can comment on any of the text boxes. When there is a discussion, you can also vote for different ideas and find out the most popular one amongst all.
For serious project discussions, tasks window is available where you find purely work-oriented features; the ones which you can see in the image.
Setting completion, priority, assigning of the task, and due date, all are done manually. The advanced window only has a few more options which are: adding the duration of the project and entering the start date.
Still, we can’t rate the tasks features to be limited as they own MiesterTask for appropriate task management. The Integration requires a dedicated section which we have provided in this review.
Some more attributes are discussed under a particular section as they are the special ones.
Sharing Content, Adding Users, and Collaboration
When the MindMeister is used for personal usage, there may not be the requirement of sharing the mind maps. However, there would be instances where you would like to share it on social media.
When it is used for the business purpose, sharing is a necessity. You need to deliver the information to complete the team.
Irrespective of usage, basic sharing options must be provided.
MindMeister houses the basic sharing ability. You can directly post the mind map on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, there is no option for other social networking sites such as Google Plus or LinkedIn.
Still, you can share the mind maps by generating a secure link. Check marking the “Link to share” option will generate a URL that you can copy paste anywhere you like.
Or else, you can choose to invite other users by sending an invite to their email account. That is provided when you want particular people to collaborate with you.
What if someone edits the present mind map? One doesn’t need to worry about it as access level is adjustable.
It is your choice whether you want to allow the visitors to make the changes to the mind map or not. You can set the access level to “only view.”
There is an advanced way by which you can share the content: embedding it on website or blog. As the intuitiveness is one of the characteristics of MindMeister, it will not allow you to make an effort for creating embed code.
Embed code will be generated automatically, and just copy pasting it to your website’s editor will do the job. After that, when you update the website, the map will appear wherever you have injected the code.
You can even enable live updating for the mind map, i.e., whenever you make any changes on the mind map, it will be visible on the website in real-time.
Other users can even share your mind map through their social media websites. Moreover, you can even adjust the frame width and frame height also.
We discussed previously in this section that you can add new users by inviting them through the email or by sending the secure link.
Now we will examine the collaboration taking place amongst all the users working on the mind map.
After you send them the link, they will join the mind mapping window. MindMeister names it as brainstorming mode.
We are not sure if they have done this purposely or it is a limitation, but you cannot use the undo option when you are using this mode.
As we already know that we can set the access level, setting it to edit level will helps to have a two-way engagement. When one-way engagement is required, you must set the level to view only.
As we mentioned earlier, there is a provision of adding comments and voting the ideas. The invited users can also access these features and upvote or downvote for a sibling topic.
That aids to the conclusion that is made according to inputs of all the members.
Although it showcases the brainstorming sessions, there are a few features which are still missing.
When we tried to brainstorm, we found it messy on some occasions; when two different collaborators conduct actions together.
It becomes tough to track the changes and manage the changes. There must be an option that provides equal opportunity to everyone for making changes and showing ideas. For example, if it were possible that the changes can only be made one by one, i.e. when one user works, the other can only view.
There is no option available by which the administrator could contact all the collaborators at once. It is a really necessary feature to make management efficient.
But in the end, it is an efficient way to discuss the ideas and improve the thought process. Collaboration also helps users keep track of projects. In the next session, we will discuss the collaboration using MeisterTask.
Connecting MindMeister and MeisterTask
In the previous section, we have seen how various users collaborate on MindMeister, and how it can be improved.
One of the major reasons why various users use it for project management is the efficiency of collaboration. Although there are a few drawbacks on MindMeister’s platform, when integrated with Meistertask, those drawbacks are reduced.
When the users who have MeisterTask access collaborates on the MindMeister, they appear at the MeisterTask Footer.
Using MindMeister, you can only assign the tasks to the people, and further, the work process will be visible on MeisterTask. To know more about the working of MeisterTask, you can go through its review available on our website.
For assigning the task, you just need to select the ones which you want to assign to a team member and drag them to the user’s icon appearing at the bottom of the page.
You can also allocate the priority level and due date to the project. The progress can also be entered manually.
As there could be multiple projects on MeisterTask, you can select the one to which the project is related.
You can also select the section to which you wish to drop the project. It will automatically appear under that section in MeisterTask.
Have you ever thought of making your presentation unique and simple at the same time? Well, that’s the impression MindMeister’s Presentation Maker has left on us.
Although there is a room for improvement, the application’s technique for making presentations can be considered different from other presentation makers.
Additionally, you don’t need to make much effort to convert the map into the presentation. The only task you need to perform here is to generate the slides by selecting the sections.
Before we review it, we will give you a brief idea about its working. To open this feature, you need to click on the “TV screen” icon present at the footer.
Clicking it will open a slideshow panel. If you are already feeling lazy about creating a presentation, you can select the “Auto-create Presentation” option which will generate the slides itself.
However, we would not recommend it as it is not possible for this mode to be smart enough to arrange the slide in the required order.
Also, it may miss the important part of the presentation which you wanted to add.
Now if you want to create a presentation yourself, you need to click on the plus icon. Clicking the plus icon will generate a box which covers the root topic, i.e., the central box.
The area highlighted by the box will act as the first slide. Now, for the second slide, click the plus icon again.
It will generate a box that you need to move on the sibling topics. The area which the box covers will become the second slide. You need to repeat this process till all the points of your mind maps get covered.
This isn’t a task that requires high expertise, and as you need to repeat the process, you will get used to it. When you become habitual of creating slide shows using MindMeister, a few minutes would be enough.
However, the slideshow which it creates is very basic. There are only four types of effects that you can add to the transition state (the effect present for moving from one slide to another): Fast Zoom, Slow Zoom, Pan, and Blur. That confines the uniqueness of a presentation.
There is a need for adding effects to the slide. As we reviewed the slideshow maker, we tried to find all the possible features.
There could be many limitations when it is compared to PowerPoint as MindMeister is not a dedicated presentation maker.
Still, they have come up with a solution: you can export the slideshow to various file types including PowerPoint. The slideshow can be opened in these software programs for further editing
You can also create slideshows in Lucidchart but as it is not specifically inclined towards mind mapping, generating slideshows through it is somewhat different. However, when it comes to slideshows for mind mapping, we would recommend using MindMeister.
Another top-notch tool that the company has added is the History Mode. Whenever you start a new mind map, Mindmeister saves your every step.
By choosing the history mode, you can view all the steps that MindMeister has saved.
The steps are played one by one, and you can choose to stop at any point. There is a revert option added to this mode. With its use, you can restore the mind map present at the step on which you have stopped the player.
However, be careful before restoring a previous mind map. As you install the previous stage, you will lose all the changes made after that. Thus, there will be no way to find those steps again.
The solution to this is added to the application itself. Instead of overlapping the current mind map, you can choose to save it as a new map. Therefore, you won’t need to choose between the current map and the map present on a particular stage to which you want to revert. You can save both of them.
MindMeister is one of its kind as we haven’t come across any web-based application which has so many features dedicated to creating mind maps. However, Edraw’s MindMaster can be considered as a worthy competitor.
For a general user, it is important how an application makes life easier. Mind map has specific uses such as brainstorming, discussing ideas and generating conclusions.
It is useful for people who prefer discussing topics by collaborating with others. For business management, it can be integrated with MeisterTask which, in addition to collaboration, also allows the user to assign a task to different team members.
As we have already mentioned, you can also use it for creating a presentation. However, they need to add some more features to deliver uniqueness to the presentation.
History mode is a savior when you wish to restore a previous stage of your current mind map. There are software programs that along with mind mapping also let us create several other design types such as Lucidchart. But, the ease with which you create mind maps in MindMeister remains absent on any other platform known to us.
It is your choice whether you should purchase a product for brainstorming and discussing ideas or not.
In case you want to judge the product yourself, take advantage of the Free plan. You can sign up for it within a few seconds without providing the card details. However, you can also take the decision based on our research as we have not left a single room unexplored.