Free Flowin’ Mind Maps With Coggle

Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Catherine Morin
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Businesses increasingly recognize mind-mapping as a useful communication tool that improves collaboration and brainstorming sessions. By enabling workers to visualize concepts and establish connections between ideas, collaborative mind-mapping helps teams perform better while increasing productivity.

Coggle, a mind-mapping web application designed for teams, produces hierarchically-structured documents to help users visualize and share ideas.

As opposed to traditional note-taking, mind maps represent concepts graphically, in drag and drop branching tree diagrams. Often described as visual thinking tools, they convert information into an organized, memorable layout that more closely simulates how the brain works.

While mind maps might look like absolute insanity to some, for others creating mind maps is both an exercise in artistic creativity and analytics. As such, it engages the brain to a greater extent than the act of transcribing, which helps people better generate, analyze, and memorize ideas, and understand complex information. 

coggle mind mapping mobileImage credit: G Suite Marketplace

A Coggle is born 

The company was founded in 2013 by three University of Cambridge graduates, James Crosby, James Ogborne, and John Pritchard. In the great tradition of tangential work that takes on a life of its own, the trio came up with their golden app concept while working on an unrelated research project⁠—building autonomous underwater vehicles. 

Crosby, Ogborne, and Pritchard found themselves struggling to work together on complex concepts with traditional note-taking tools and text documents. Why, they asked, were contemporary electronic documents wedded to a linear idea of thinking and writing that dates back hundreds of years?

The collaborative aspect of Google Docs was great, they thought, but they wanted something more visual that would track ideas in a way similar to how the mind works—something simple, endlessly expandable and pleasant to use. 

When they started building Coggle, they were well aware that competition already existed in the collaborative document game. But other apps were either free and not collaborative, or collaborative but not free, so there was a game opening for making a product that ticked both boxes. 

Apart from that, and perhaps most crucially, none of their competitors had broken free of the linear model of information. They concentrated on building a non-linear, unconventional tool that would be automatically understandable through good design, with an intuitive and simple user interface and that was inherently pleasurable to look at and fiddle with. 

The branching design of the Coggle offers a way of tracking possibilities and contingencies (if this happens, then this happens..) as well as organizing subtopics and the subtopics of subtopics in a highly visible way that lets you intuitively see hierarchy. The effect is not unlike a tree’s gnarled branches reaching out, or the central nervous system.

Front and center

The beating heart of a mind map is its subject, sitting front and center. The simple design is what contributes to helping the user stay focused, jumpstart memory, and structure thoughts organically around said map's heart center.  

Many organizations use mind-mapping software to utilize this focus, improving collaboration between employees, even helping remote teams work more efficiently.

Coggle users can take advantage of real time collaboration and share mind maps with as many colleagues as they like. Several users can add or edit branches on the same diagram simultaneously, and the application automatically saves every change made. Coggle accepts all types of information, including unlimited image uploads, links to files in Google Drive, multi-line text, and math formulas.

You can share the content you create online on the Coggle website, or export them as .PNG or .PDF files.

The free flowin’ flowchart feature

The Coggle team recently released their most significant update ever to the application, the flowchart feature.

Also called process diagram, a flowchart is a way of illustrating the steps necessary to complete a task.

Aiming to make flow charts as simple, elegant, and collaborative as its mind maps, the company introduced a new menu that allows users to set a flowchart shape to any item in a diagram.

The company introduced a new menu that allows users to set a flowchart shape to any item in a diagram, aiming to make flowcharts as simple, elegant, and collaborative as Coggle mind maps.

coggle flow chartsImage credit: Bloggle

In both mind maps and flowcharts, the user applies short phrases and keywords to thoughts so that you get ideas down quickly and thoughts flow freer.  Ideas are enhanced even further as Coggle’s new flowcharts allow users to make diagrams even more powerful and flexible by creating multiple root items and joining branches together to form loops.​ There's also the option of making private diagrams.

And that’s not all! The stylish and user-friendly menu adapts to the performance of the user’s computer, with a glass-effect background supported by most browsers.

Expand your mind, man 

Coggle offers tons of other cool features, including the Public Mind Map Gallery, a selection of the best public diagrams and mind maps made with the application. 

The Coggle gallery allows users to search a mind map on pretty much any topic one’s heart desires. You no longer have to talk to a scientist, botanist, or psychiatrist to discover the intricacies of such topics as biorhythms, leaves, or perceiving and presenting the self.

If only there had been a public mind map on magnets readily available when Insane Clown Posse asked the question, “f*cking ?” magnets, how do they work?”

Built for the knowledge thirsty  

Coggle has had a strong reception among the education community. Many teachers who use it with their students praise its simplicity and ease of use. 

Last spring, students from the Health Club at Tarrant County College worked for over four months to create a giant Coggle mind map for their Anatomy and Physiology course.

They presented the 15 by 8 feet diagram at the national Human Anatomy and Physiology Society conference, where it attracted much attention. The students claimed that the creation process helped them acquire significant Anatomy and Physiology knowledge and helped to memorize new concepts better.

giant mind map

Considered as one of the most user-friendly mind-mapping solutions, along with similar apps like Mindmeister, Bloomfire, Wisemapping, and Bubbl.us, Coggle currently helps over one million people across many industries share and understand complex information. 

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