Your Guide to Affinity Diagram Software

Let me be frank with you. I’ve heard people bring up affinity diagram software off and on over the past few years, and all I can do is sigh and roll my eyes. You see, this isn’t something you need special software for, and even if it was, there’s nothing worth a damn to do it.

Oh sure, a search on Google might turn up a few things claiming to be affinity diagram software, but you know what? Almost all of that leads to absolutely nowhere, frankly.

Why Bother:

In all honesty, I was never a big fan of the affinity diagram concept anyhow. It’s a messy tangled cluster that thinks it’s a Venn diagram, but isn’t. If you didn’t make the diagram, you can’t make a lick of sense out of it, and half the time, a day or two later, the creators can’t either.

Complex masses of data like that are impossible to keep track of over time, hence why things like programming and markup scripts have commenting systems to abate the problem.

If You Must:

If you must use this process, and I know some of you are hell bent on doing so, or work for companies that are, then let me recommend some alternative tools for this.

Stuff You Probably Have:

#1 – Sticky Note Tools

Most versions of Windows have a sticky note program preinstalled, which can be used to create these pretty easily. If you don’t have this installed in Windows, you can easily obtain theirs, or 3M’s cute little post-it-note program.

Mac and Android users will find similar software available. If you need to save a finished diagram, heck, just screenshot it. Really, why does there need to be special software for this?

#2 – Paint Tool

If you want to keep it in an image form, it takes a little effort to set up, but most paint tools work fine for this too, especially in a smaller use like a few people or individual developers or designers.

Everything has a paint tool, with the exception of Android, which … why are you authoring these on a mobile? Same goes for the iPhone, but the iPhone doesn’t run anything useful anyhow!

Stuff You Probably Need:

#3 – Visio

You need Visio anyhow, for other graphing and charting you’ll be doing. Visio is excellent for graphing these, all it takes is a label and a shape and some group panes and bam, affinity diagram all set.


You can search far and wide for specialized software for this, and you’ll be chasing false leads and software with almost no reputable reviews. You’ll waste your time and frustrate yourself.

Or, you can take the logical route and, if you have to use this process, just use the software above. You absolutely have at least one of these, and two of them are free.

So, which seems like a better use of your time? Working out the quick and easy process of making these diagrams with software you’ve probably already got or were going to get, or spend three minutes short of an eternity looking for genuine affinity diagram software? Well, I know the choice a logical person would pick!


Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.