The Best Idea Organizer App, Software: Comparison Guide

by

Eric Sharp

Eric Sharp Healthy Dad Hacks bio photo

Modified last on

Jul 9, 2023

Ideas are worthless without execution. If you win the documentation game, you set yourself up for success. Whether it's your latest business idea, or a fun experience for your kids, here are 12+ digital organizational apps & software tools that'll help move things forward.

The best idea organizer app, software listing comparison guide

Topic

We need to brainstorm, we need to get out of this! Brain hurricane.

Even Michael Scott from the widely popular and hilarious TV show The Office understood the power of a brain hurricane, er, storm.

michael-scott-meme-brain-hurricane-vert

Brainstorming new ideas is energizing, gets people motivated for change, and is just plain fun.

We all have thoughts, but ideas are fleeting!

All humans have a ton of thoughts daily. In fact, more than 6,000 per day says the research from Queen’s University.

Sure, many of those thoughts are the ho-hum of the daily grind such as “Hmm, I’m hungry”, “The sun is nice”, or my favorite “Where’s my to-do list?”. With that said, I’d bet that at least a dozen of those thoughts are legit IDEAS.

Do they stay in your head or do you get them out? If you’ve come to realize that you must write everything down (that’s me!), you might be swimming in a dozen Post-it notes, messy (but creatively cool looking) whiteboard, or random printer paper filled with chicken scratch. Everybody, especially Dads who love to throw around big ideas, needs an easy-to-use tool to quickly access and iterate on those sometimes fleeting ideas. This act of documenting is so critical that it made my list of healthy dad goals.

It’s time to take your sticky notes, random pieces of paper, and whiteboard scribbles to the next level!

Listing of the best apps, software for organizing ideas

Below are the best apps and software for organizing brainstorming and ideas. I’ve used most of these myself, both professionally and personally, and can attest to their value.

  1. ClickUp
  2. Evernote
  3. Slickplan
  4. Gliffy
  5. Google Docs
  6. Bubbl.us
  7. MindManager
  8. MindMeister
  9. Popplet
  10. Lucidchart
  11. Wisemapping
  12. Others

Let’s start with my favorite tool ClickUp. I first demoed this app in 2022 and it quickly became my daily go-to.

1. ClickUp

Starts at $9/mo, offers FREE FOREVER plan. Get a FREE ClickUp account
Clickup - best idea organizer app software
You can’t go wrong with ClickUp. I’m obsessed with it!

ClickUp has replaced Evernote (the second app on this list below) as my irreplaceable organizational tool, or as I like to describe it, my “digital brain”.

ClickUp has a lofty tagline:

One app to replace them all.

And to be honest, I didn’t believe it at first. Then, I started using their Tasks. Then Templates. I jumped into their Documents feature and their new “Whiteboard” feature. I was blown away. OMG. It’s like Google Docs married Evernote and had a baby named Visio (a long-standing Microsoft product). I’m currently utilizing probably 20% of ClickUp and haven’t even tapped into these other features:

  • Automations
  • Integrations
  • Team Collaboration (Chat, comments, etc.)
  • Goals, Milestones
  • The list keeps going!

No wonder why they boast that 800,000 teams use their software tool! ClickUp is the best software app on this list for organizing ideas and moving them toward execution. Try their FOREVER FREE plan and find out for yourself!

ClickUp Pros

  • Speed, Design, Ease-of-use
  • Documents
  • Features to grow into
  • FREE FOREVER plan
  • iOS/Android app available

ClickUp Cons

  • Slight learning curve to understand Spaces/Folders/Lists
  • Whiteboard feature in Beta

ClickUp is excellent for both professional and personal uses — I create lists all the time, like when I planned a homemade DIY Ultimate Warrior costume!

2. Evernote

Starts at $6.67/mo (Personal), offers FREE plan
Evernote - idea organizer software app
I was an Evernote diehard for over a decade.

With a slogan like “Remember everything”, Evernote can quickly scan and organize whiteboard drawings, post-its, and pencil/pen notes in a snap. In fact, their OCR (Optical Character Recognition) can even search handwriting — even bad handwriting (speaking from experience). Their “Presentation Mode” helps share your ideas and get buy-in.

I’ve been a diehard Evernote fan for nearly a decade, and will probably always keep it — even though I’m all in with ClickUp. However, along the way, I’ve had issues with syncing, odd text formatting of “Notes” across multiple devices, and their search feature was never as intuitive and fast as I wanted. You can use Evernote right in a browser without an install, it also offers a Mac/PC downloaded desktop app version. In my Evernote heyday, I utilized the PC desktop and iOS app daily.

Evernote Pros

  • Document scanning
  • “Web Clipper”
  • iOS/Android app available

Evernote Cons

  • Cross-device text formatting
  • Syncing issues
  • Search is clunky
  • No Mindmapping feature

3. SlickPlan

Starts at $10.79/mo, offers a 14-day FREE trial
Slickplan - idea organizer software app
Slickplan is excellent for website brainstorming

Does your brainstorm revolve around a website for your family, business, or passion project? If so, there’s no better tool for planning its structure, content, and design concepts than SlickPlan. It’s fast at capturing ideas, iterating on them (version control), sharing, and bringing in contributors. Slickplan also boasts the following tools in their software:

  • Diagram Maker
  • Content Planner
  • Design Mockups

To see SlickPlan in action, check out How to design a website structure with sitemapping.

SlickPlan Pros

  • Features focused on websites
  • Sitemapping (for websites or org charts)

SlickPlan Cons

  • Too specific to websites
  • Limited FREE plan
  • Web-based only (no iOS/Android app)

4. Gliffy

Starts at $8/mo, offers 2 week FREE trial
Gliffy - idea organizer software app
Gliffy’s slogan: Take your ideas from “to do” to “done”

When it comes to mind mapping — one of the best ways to capture ideas and bring them to life in a visual form — Gliffy is in the running. The tool can also create flowcharts, org charts, and website wireframing (something Slickplan is missing). Gliffy can even be used for SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and creating floor plans — a unique feature that others on this list don’t offer.

Floor plan maker from Gliffy
Planning your office, living room, or playroom? Gliffy’s “Floor Plan Maker” is the perfect fit.

Gliffy Pros

  • Quick & easy-to-create Diagrams of all types
  • Floor Plan Maker
  • Integration to Jira (software for managing agile development)

Gliffy Cons

  • Limited features outside of diagramming
  • No limited FREE plan after trial
  • Web-based only (no iOS/Android app)

5. Google Docs

FREE with a Google account
Google Docs - idea organizer software app
If on a tight budget, stick with the simplicity of Google Docs

This may seem like an obvious option, but many people don’t realize or utilize the full power of Google Docs. The Share, Comments, Chat, and Revision History features help to create a collaborative approach to organizing ideas. It can also open and edit existing Microsoft Word files. Also, Google Docs is incredibly simple in function and form — a staple for every Google-designed product.

Google Docs Pros

  • FREE up to 15 GB
  • Easily accessible (since most already have a Google account)
  • Simple, straight to the point
  • iOS/Android app available

Google Docs Cons

  • No mind mapping feature
  • Limited support
  • Limited formatting/styling

6. Bubbl.us

Starts at $4.91/mo, offers FREE plan
Bubbl.us - idea organizer software app
No frills, just mind mapping!

“The easiest way to mind map” is the Bubbl.us approach. This app has been around since 2005 and touts 7 million users! Woah. This app doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, and (per its name) is a little bubbly in its design. But, if you’re in a bind and need a basic mind mapping tool without a tedious signup process — Bubbl.us is your solution.

Bubble.us Pros

  • FREE up to 3 mind maps
  • Register with your Facebook or Google account
  • Simple features, no frills

Bubble.us Cons

  • Only 1 feature (mind mapping)
  • Design style is less professional, more appealing to students/teachers
  • Web-based only (no iOS/Android app)

7. MindManager

Starts at $99/annually, 30-day free trial
MindManager - best idea organizer app software
MindManager is pricey but offers the most robust mind mapping functionality.

Another excellent mind mapping software. Though it’s the most sophisticated and offers the most functionality, it is the most expensive one on the list.

I was a MindManager (previously named Mindjet MindManager) power user for many years before I got irritated with their unclear and complicated pricing. It looks like they’ve cleared up the pricing model, which is great to see. Mindmanager also offers org charts, timelines, flowcharts, concept maps, Venn & onion diagrams, and more. If map customizations and stylizing are critical, this app delivers. They also provide a Mac, PC, and Chromebook install — but be prepared to pay $179 every year! MindManager offers an Enterprise upgrade option, which I feel is the reason their plans are on the higher end and not as straightforward as the other apps on this list.

MindManager Pros

  • Robust features
  • Customizability
  • Web-based & downloadable Desktop (Windows & Mac) versions — see all system requirements

MindManager Cons

  • Price
  • No iOS/Android app

8. MindMeister

Starts at $4.99/mo, offers FREE plan
Mindmeister - idea organizer software app
It’d be hard to choose against Mindmeister as a mindmapping tool.

I’ve never used MindMeister, but from their website, it looks to be designed very well, possesses all the features you could need, and their $4.99 “Personal” account is very desirable.

Their “Task Management” feature allows you to assign tasks and priorities right within your mind map. Now that’s cool. It also comes with Chat, integrates with a variety of other applications (e.g. Google, Microsoft), and allows you to embed your beautiful maps directly into your website. Also, the “Public Maps” section of their website is a unique resource — giving you a glimpse into how other people use the app. For the record, they tout 27 million users worldwide!

MindMeister Pros

  • FREE up to 3 mind maps
  • Register with your Google account
  • Unique mindmapping features (“Outline” mode, attachments)
  • Google Workspace & MS Teams integration
  • iOS/Android app

MindMeister Cons

  • Specific to mindmapping

9. Popplet

iOS app for $2.99, also offers FREE Lite version
Popplet is only available on iOS

Though Popplet claims it’s for the “Professional”, the personality of the brand and design style feel more suited for educational environments. Popplet is different than others on this list because it’s iOS driven. It’s unclear if a web-based version is available, their website is incredibly limited (to a fault). The overall features look incredibly basic, and I would only recommend Popplet if your current brainstorming already involves iPads/iPhones.

Popplet Pros

  • FREE Lite version
  • iOS app

Popplet Cons

  • Unclear features
  • No web-based version
  • No Android app
  • Lack of product information on website

10. Lucidchart

Starts at $7.95/mo, offers FREE plan. Begin a FREE Lucidcharts trial
Lucidcharts - idea organizer software app
If you need awesome flowcharts and diagrams, Lucid is the app to choose!

Lucidchart and Gliffy (on list above) feel very similar in style and function. In both web-based apps, you can create various types of diagrams (e.g. mind maps, website wireframes, org charts, flowcharts), export, and share with collaborators.

Lucidchart boasts some big-name clients (e.g. Disney, Comcast, Ford) but this software will appeal to anybody, even busy Dads! They claim it can “replace Visio”, and I personally feel it’s easier to use than Gliffy. The design tools are more intuitive and snappy, especially when creating flowcharts with many shapes and lines.

Lucidchart Pros

  • FREE up to 3 docs
  • Many Integrations
  • Ease-of-use, plenty of formatting options
  • Many exporting options (e.g. Visio file, jpg, etc.)

Lucidchart Cons

  • No iOS/Android app
  • Limited features with FREE plan

11. Wisemapping

FREE, Open-source
WiseMapping - idea organizer software app
The only “Open-source” app on this list

Wisemapping is a downloadable program free for everyone since it’s “Open-source software”, which means the original source code is freely available and may be redistributed/modified.

The obvious upside of Wisemapping is that it’s free. However, that’s the downside too. Open-source projects typically don’t come with stellar support or add new features regularly. Similar to Bubbl.us, Wisemapping is a very simple software app for mindmapping ideas when you need something fast and free on your computer. There’s not much information about its overall features, so download with little expectations!


Wisemapping Pros

  • FREE

Wisemapping Cons

  • Lack of support
  • Unclear features
  • No web-based version
  • No iOS/Android app

12. Others

  1. Milanote (This tool looks promising and a deeper review coming soon)
  2. Xmind
  3. SpiderScribe
  4. Coggle
  5. Mindomo
  6. Mindly
  7. SimpleMind

How to choose the best software app to organize your ideas

As you can see, there are plenty of options available. To choose the best software app for capturing your brainstorming and moving those ideas to execution, you should determine what type of brainstorming you want to capture and which app provides those specific features within your budget. Here’s a quick guide to help.

Website planning
If you’re wanting an app to simply create a mind map, you can’t go wrong with MindMeister. If you need an app that does it all, including mindmapping, to-dos, and a robust way to organize many ideas into various places, choose ClickUp. If you don’t need anything fancy and just looking to digitize and organize your ideas, go with Google Docs. This is between Gliffy and Lucidchart, but I’d go with Lucidchart because of it’s FREE forever plan and robust styling options. Hands down, go with Slickplan!

Dad’s Final Thoughts

Ideas are easy, it’s more about what you DO with them. In his book Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky suggests:

Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.

Are your ideas from your last brainstorm being implemented? If not, could the crux be the lack of the right digital apps? From the moment the light bulb goes on, be ready — with a brainstorming software tool — to organize those ideas and turn them into tangible results for your family or business.

It’s time to organize those ideas. It’s time to maximize those brain hurricanes.

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You got this, Dad!

Can you win at Dadhood AND everywhere else in life? I'm just crazy enough to believe we can. With the right knowledge, hacks, habits, and motivation — we can crush it ALL!

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About Eric

Eric Sharp is the founder of Healthy Dad Hacks. He married the love of his life (Sarah) and proud Dad of a blended family (Hazel & Roman). When not thinking about being a better Dad, he enjoys; CrossFit, entrepreneurship, eating carnivore, collecting Michael Jordan sports cards, music, and fancy sneakers.

[Picture: Turkey Trot 2021]

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