Affinity diagram software turns chaos into clarity. These trusty diagrams act as a visual tool that can help with your problem-solving, brainstorming, and project management needs. They’ll help you take unstructured data, generate ideas, organize ideas, and turn them into meaningful groups with natural relationships.
Previously, you could write individual points on sticky notes and put them up on a wall or whiteboard. Your team could then move and group the sticky notes into related categories, creating the affinity diagram.
In today’s office, there’s a good chance your team isn’t in the same room. So how can you use an affinity diagram and affinity mapping in the modern (and often remote) workplace?
The answer is to use free, customizable affinity diagram templates, with our top affinity diagram examples listed below.
- What is an Affinity Diagram Template?
- What Makes a Good Free Affinity Diagram Template?
- How to Create Affinity Diagram Templates
- 3 Free Affinity Diagram Templates to Use in 2023
What is an Affinity Diagram Template?
As you’ll see in our affinity diagram examples, affinity mapping with these templates makes it easy to create an affinity diagram. The best affinity diagram examples and templates often have placeholders or sections where you or even multiple team members can capture ideas and quickly move them into meaningful categories.
When you create an affinity diagram with a pre-built affinity diagram example for your brainstorming session, it gives you a starting point for organizing different ideas, thoughts, or data into related groups. There’s no need to build a completed affinity diagram from scratch. Affinity chart templates also let you skip the hassle of manually arranging sticky notes and focus on brainstorming ideas and doing strategic planning (aka the fun part).
Free affinity diagram examples and templates are available for many project management platforms, such as ClickUp, Excel, and Word, so you can find an affinity diagram example that suits your needs and your tech stack to help propel your project forward.
What Makes a Good Free Affinity Diagram Template?
A good template can make the difference between chaos and beautifully organized ideation. When looking for a good affinity diagram online, look for affinity diagrams with the following features:
- Clear and intuitive layout: A good template should guide you through making affinity diagrams and make it simple to capture ideas, identify patterns, and gain valuable insights as you’re analyzing data. Sections should be easily identifiable and allow plenty of room for brainstorming and grouping
- Easy customization: Your affinity diagramming process may vary. A pre-designed template is only as helpful as its customization options. Look for templates that can adapt to your workflow and allow you to put your touch on it
- Integrates with your tech stack: Whether you’re using an online affinity diagram maker or something integrated into your existing apps, the affinity diagram software should work with your preferred tech stack. Bonus point if it’s easily sharable with others on various apps so you can loop more people into the process, especially your stakeholders
The right template can empower a team to resolve complex issues and find practical solutions. There are fantastic options, so find the right template for your team and unlock better brainstorming techniques.
How to Create Affinity Diagram Templates
Want to take the DIY approach to creating an affinity diagram template? Follow these steps to craft a template that’s ideally suited to your team’s needs:
Step 1: Define your purpose
Clarify what you’ll use the affinity diagram template for, whether you need it to be an all-purpose brainstorming powerhouse or a template to capture specific problem-solving data. Going into the process with a clear understanding of the template’s purpose can help you build something more helpful.
Step 2: Choose the platform
You have many options here, so start by thinking about the platforms your team uses the most or finds the most helpful. Consider the tools available within your preferred apps to help build a diagram or see if there are pre-built templates that you can tailor to your needs.
Step 3: Create your layout
You’ll want to make a clear layout for your affinity diagram template, with sections where you can capture individual data points and areas where you can group data points into categories. Look at examples of diagrams and see what worked for others; many free affinity diagram templates use a grid or clustering system for easy categorization. Leave plenty of space in each area so it’s easy to work with and move around the individual data points.
Step 4: Keep your visual elements clean
Less is more when it comes to template design. Don’t clutter the workspace with graphics. Keep your color scheme neutral. The goal of the template is to create a workspace for brainstorming and problem-solving. So let the data do the heavy lifting and keep most of the template blank. It will give you more room to work later on.
Step 5: Test and refine the template
Do a trial run with a small group to see if your template is intuitive and operates as expected. Get user feedback on the template and use it to refine your design and optimize its functionality.
A well-designed template sets the stage for organized brainstorming and data-driven decision-making. Designing and refining a template can be time-consuming, though, and there may already be great pre-built options.
You can skip reinventing the wheel and reclaim your time by looking for pre-built affinity diagram templates. Minor tweaks to existing templates can create the perfect template for you in seconds so you can start collaborating with your team sooner.
3 Free Affinity Diagram Templates to Use in 2023
Here are our top three free affinity design templates for your brainstorming and problem-solving sessions in 2023.
1. ClickUp Affinity Diagram Template
Need a virtual whiteboard for better remote collaboration? ClickUp has it built in. Combine the platform’s whiteboard with the ClickUp Affinity Diagram Template for a winning duo that empowers teams to tackle complex challenges and find innovative solutions. Here’s why you’ll love this template:
An infinite canvas
ClickUp’s free affinity diagram whiteboard template serves as a virtual playground for ideation. Your team can unleash their creativity on the digital canvas, using the provided virtual sticky notes and ample brainstorming space to transfer ideas from their heads onto paper (virtually, at least).
With the space scaling to your needs, there’s no limit to your creativity, either. You can generate ten ideas or ten thousand and still have space to keep everything organized.
The user-friendly interface encourages even the least tech-savvy team members to jump in, creating a collaborative space where everyone can contribute. With the use of digital sticky notes, there’s no danger of someone’s winning idea getting lost in the shuffle and no need to clean up discarded sticky notes after the meeting.
Friendly interface to encourage collaboration
Collaborating beyond the physical boundaries allows team members from different locations to converge into a single virtual space to brainstorm and create together. This boosts ownership of the issue and fosters cross-pollination of ideas.
Everyone can contribute simultaneously without interrupting their flow. Your team can use the digital sticky notes to capture ideas quickly, moving them on the virtual whiteboard for the rest of the team to see. The simple click-and-drag interface also means everyone can collaborate in the grouping stage. The friendly, easy-to-use space makes the affinity diagramming process enjoyable.
ClickUp’s diagram simplifies the brainstorming process with an intuitive design, making it immediately clear to even newcomers where to generate their ideas and how to move them into groups.
The ultimate solution for flexibility
Every project is unique. ClickUp’s affinity diagram template offers a high degree of flexibility to suit those evolving needs. You can use the template for product development brainstorming, marketing strategy sessions, or even to tackle internal roadblocks. The template is a backbone for ideation and can grow with you, adding more categories as needed. The template adjusts to accommodate the structure of your diagram so that it can grow with your ideas.
Thanks to the intuitive interface, your team can change the template with a few clicks without getting bogged down in the technicalities, so the ideas don’t have to take a formatting break.
One of the best things about ClickUp’s affinity diagram template is that it’s part of the larger ClickUp ecosystem. ClickUp is a comprehensive project management platform, so it goes beyond a brainstorming space. You can use your virtual whiteboard to create actionable tasks assigned to different team members or a Kanban board to help drive a project goal.
Take advantage of the platform’s many features and use it to deliver results. From affinity diagram to mission accomplished, ClickUp can help transform your project management processes.
2. Microsoft Word affinity diagram by My Word Templates
Microsoft Word is another tool for affinity diagramming, helping you create structure from chaos using a universal office platform. Hosted on My Word Templates, this free affinity diagram template for Word can familiarize users with a tool that most office workers currently use.
This template has a very neatly laid-out framework. It does an excellent job of walking you through the ideation process. You’ll find a clear top-down organization that starts with a top-level “Need” box.
This box helps identify the purpose or need for the affinity diagram, such as refining your email marketing strategy. Placing the overarching goal for the chart in this box sets the scene for exploring potential ideas and solutions.
Moving down the hierarchy, you’ll find spaces to list the drivers of the problem or topic. These drivers are the influential elements that shape the direction of your brainstorming sessions.
For example, you may be looking at your current email marketing strategy because your open and click-through rates are below target. Or slagging sales numbers are driving the need to increase your email marketing efforts. You can list the problems driving the need for a solution in these boxes. When you outline your drivers, you add focus and perspective to the brainstorming session and keep your team on track.
The template also provides you with Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) boxes. These boxes allow you and your team to list the critical elements for success. For example, when working on your email marketing campaign, maybe one CTQ factor is hitting a 3% click-through rate, or you need a certain number of new leads each week.
These are your key indicators of success and can help ensure that your solution aligns with your initial need.
Finally, the template provides you with space to list potential measures. Brainstorming begins with potential measures. Use the space here to collaborate with your team members on ideas for solutions or actions relevant to the need. Maybe you need to send two emails a week instead of one, or you want to explore new landing page ideas.
Encourage your team to add innovative responses or consider various perspectives and combine those insights into related categories. You and your team can open the Microsoft Word template, go to Edit, and choose Edit in Browser to collaborate on this template in real time.
3. Excel affinity diagram by Visual Paradigm
Visual Paradigm offers an array of dynamic Excel affinity diagram templates. These templates are reminiscent of an Excel spreadsheet’s structure, so users familiar with the program will feel at home editing them.
The Visual Paradigm platform offers an array of customizable and free affinity diagram templates, including ones tailored for business start-ups, continuous process improvement, and staff morale enhancement. The variety of free affinity diagramming templates can help you find one to suit your needs. If you can’t find one you love, you can easily edit an existing template in the online editor. With easy editing capabilities, you can create a custom template for every project and need.
The customization options are the real strength of these Excel affinity diagramming templates. You can tailor every aspect of the template, from adding or removing sections to color coding or creating labels to help guide the brainstorming process. The flexibility ensures you get the template you need, no matter the context of your project or challenge.
The Excel templates offer a simple, clean layout that makes affinity diagramming easy.
Share your screen with your team and edit the templates within the Visual Paradigm platform while capturing their ideas and feedback. You can also export the templates as PDFs or JPGs, or copy it as an image into Excel and edit it there. If you opt to collaborate in Excel, remember to edit the file online so everyone can contribute to the template simultaneously. That way, you can avoid the revision history nightmare of passing around a single Excel file.
The flexibility of the export options allows you to work in whatever program you prefer and adapt to the needs of different teams and projects. So what works for one project this time might not be the best choice for the next. Downloading the template in various formats ensures you adapt to changing situations but still have the template you know and love.
Use these templates to jumpstart your Excel brainstorming session. They can give you a quick pre-built framework to start building your ideas on and a way to harness your team’s creativity and innovation. You’ll witness how a spreadsheet can transform an idea into a well-structured solution.
Create a Free ClickUp Workspace
With these templates by your side, you’ll be tracking your data better than ever before. These affinity diagram templates are customizable, ensuring you’ve got exactly what you need to keep your business running smoothly. All of these and more are available from ClickUp—it’s free forever. 🦄