Here’s the dilemma: You’re not a designer, but you need to make diagrams for presentations, organizational charts for employees, and even an emergency-exit plan for your office. Those are just some of the many reasons you might need flowchart and diagramming software, and Lucidchart is one of the best. This web app works on any computer with a web browser, and there’s an offline mode to keep you productive even when you aren’t connected. Lucidchart puts easy-to-use tools and a variety of templates at your fingertips. There’s a free version, as well as several paid plans. With Lucidchart, it’s incredibly easy to create and publish diagrams that look professional. It’s an Editors’ Choice pick for diagramming software, and a lifesaver for unartistic, busy professionals.
Another strong competitor in this space is SmartDraw, which is also an Editors’ Choice winner. SmartDraw does not have a free tier of service, although you can get a free trial. The two are similar in a lot of ways, though SmartDraw comes with a much bigger library of templates and objects and is better for people in certain fields, including education.
What’s New in Lucidchart
If you’ve used Lucidchart in the past, the app has received a few recent improvements worth noting.
A big one is integration with Salesforce, which is available to anyone who uses Lucidchart, even free account holders. You can connect the two apps to pull in information about Salesforce Contacts. It has two-way syncing, so any changes you make in one app syncs to the other. Lucidchart Enterprise members get additional features, such as being able to create new contacts from Lucidchart, and support for additional Salesforce data, such as Account, Opportunity, Leads, and Custom Objects.
Speaking of integrations, you can connect Lucidchart to other business apps such as Jira, Confluence, and GitHub, to use data stored in them in your diagrams, too. These integrations require a paid account, however. The purpose is to create live diagrams that update in real time and therefore have value beyond being illustrative. So for example, a sales team could pull in data from Salesforce, make a diagram with it in Lucidchart, and send it to a file in a Microsoft app (you can connect to Microsoft Office apps, too), where it’s shared in Teams and everyone can see it.
Another major update is the ability to compare different documents. The app now highlights major differences between two files and creates a detailed list of them.
Lucidchart also recently made some improvements to the revision history of files. You can name versions of a document, see the names of coeditors of a file next to timestamps of their edits, and easily view the status of a document.
How Much Does Lucidchart Cost?
Lucidchart has four tiers of service: Free, Individual (starting at $95.40 per year), Team (from $108 per person per year), and Enterprise (custom pricing).
You can use the Free account forever, though are some limits and features restrictions. You get just 3 editable documents at a time, 100 templates, and only basic collaboration and integration features. You also don’t get data and automations, meaning you can’t automatically generate a chart using existing data that you pipe into Lucidchart.
Individual accounts cost $95.40 if you pay annually or $9.95 per month. It comes with unlimited editable documents, more than 1,000 templates, plus basic collaboration and integration features. You also get basic data and automations.
Team accounts start at $11 per person per month or $108 per person if you pay annually (equivalent to $9 per month), with a minimum of three people. The more people on the account, the lower the per-person rate. With this type, you get everything in the Individual account, but more advanced collaboration and integration features, and admin controls.
Enterprise plans require custom pricing, so contact the company for a quote. With this plan, you get everything in the Team plan, with more advanced features for admin controls and data and automation. You also can enable single sign-on for your users.
How Do Lucidchart’s Prices Stack Up?
Lucidchart’s prices are roughly on par with what other, similar apps charge. The starting price is about the same as Gliffy‘s. Draw.io, which is probably the strongest contender, charges a little more than Lucidchart. Another app called Creately charges almost half as much but isn’t nearly as sophisticated.
Microsoft Visio, another strong contender, charges as little as $5 per person per month, although you can also buy standalone versions of this software for a one-time fee. It’s $530 for Visio Pro and $280 for Visio Standard.
Getting Started With Lucidchart
Getting started with Lucidchart is fast, intuitive, and simple, setting a positive tone for the app. Right from the beginning, the signup process doesn’t pester you for a credit card or too much information. You can provide an email address and create a password, or you can sign up using a Google, Microsoft 365, or Yahoo account for authentication.
Starting a new document is a breeze, whether you use one of Lucidchart’s templates or choose a blank canvas. We began testing by using one of the flowchart templates. It opens with a selection of basic rectangles, squares, text boxes, and arrows on the page. To the left are more shapes to use if you need them.
In less than a minute, you can move shapes around, resize them, rotate them, duplicate them, group and ungroup them, and so forth. Lucidchart is fast and responsive, and figuring out how to use it comes naturally. The user experience feels much more intuitive than it does in Gliffy, which requires more clicking and tool-switching.
Lucidchart has a ton of useful tools and features, all of which are easy to find and use. Some are quite standard, like the ability to group objects, copy and paste them, align and distribute them, and so forth. One neat function is Conditional Formatting, whereby you can make global changes to a diagram with an “if/then” type statement. For example, if there are room objects on the diagram that are unlabeled (that is, objects whose text field is empty), turn them all red. That way, you could quickly identify objects that you might want to label. Conditional formatting also helps you style a diagram quickly.
Templates and Libraries
The selection of templates and shape libraries makes or breaks a diagramming app. For Lucidchart, the huge selection is an asset that gives the app so much of its value.
Templates and libraries allow people to create flowcharts, floor plans, network infrastructure diagrams, and other files without them having to be designers. A library includes objects that are commonly found on diagrams so that you can pull them onto a canvas and place them where you want without having to draw the object itself by hand. These libraries and templates separate diagramming software from more general purpose vector graphics apps, such as Adobe Illustrator.
Lucidchart’s templates and libraries are ample. Some of the templates include Android and iOS apps mockups, organizational charts, wireframes, family trees, and a whole lot more. Within those templates are libraries with all kinds of shapes and objects, such as scroll bars, servers, and even plants for jazzing up floor plans. The options are current and the objects have a contemporary look to them. Having all these assets really expands the possibilities for what you can do with Lucidchart.
While Lucidchart’s selection is plentiful, SmartDraw’s is bigger and more diverse. Comparing the two libraries, SmartDraw covers ground that Lucidchart misses. For example, it has templates for education uses such as world maps and anatomy. It also has templates for use cases in a few other specific fields, including healthcare and legal. Lucidchart’s selection isn’t nearly so exhaustive.
Another important aspect of diagramming software is whether and how it helps you show your finished product. With Lucidchart, you can export to JPEG, PDF, PNG, PNG with transparent background, SVG, SVG with transparent background, Visio (VDX), and Visio 2010 (VDX). There’s also an option to export the CSV file of your shape data.
Additionally, Lucidchart supports the following file types for importing: Draw.io, Gliffy, Omnigraffle, and Visio.
Formerly, you could import data from Amazon Web Service (AWS) to create and maintain diagrams automatically from your AWS architecture as a premium add-on. That feature is no longer available to all Lucidchart customers and has been made exclusive to a secondary account called Lucidchart Cloud Insights (pricing not publicly available; contact the company for a quote). You can still make AWS and other architecture diagrams using objects from the Lucidchart library, but you can’t automatically generate them unless you have Cloud Insights.
Lucidchart Pro has a handy tool that helps you turn a diagram into a presentation. It puts a small window on the screen, and whatever you frame into that window becomes a slide. Another way to share content is to embed it into, say, a company website or blog. The benefit of embedding the diagram directly, rather than exporting it first and importing it as an image, is that if you later update the diagram, the changes will automatically be visible wherever it’s embedded.
Collaborating in Lucidchart
The ability to collaborate in real time is quickly becoming a standard feature in diagramming apps, especially cloud-based ones. Lucidchart has it, and it works smoothly. Every Lucidchart user can invite other people to edit diagrams with them, no matter their account type, although the limitations of the account still apply when collaborating. For example, Free account holders can only have three editable documents at a time.
Other diagramming apps that support collaboration include Creately, SmartDraw, and Visio.
When you invite other people to collaborate, you choose whether they can edit, edit and share, comment only, or view only. In Team and Enterprise accounts, administrators can add limits to the sharing permissions, such as allowing sharing only to other users within the organization.
Collaboration works much the same way as it does in Google Docs and other Google Workspace apps, such as Sheets and Slides. When more than one person has a file open, everyone can see who is in the document and the changes they make as they work. Collaborators have a chat box for live discussion of issues, as well as commenting tools for asynchronous communication. It works as you would expect and hope, which is no small feat.
Tops in Diagramming Software
Fluid and easy to learn, Lucidchart is an excellent choice for diagramming software. Well-stocked libraries of templates and objects make it a valuable tool for non-designers. It also offers great collaboration support and real-time co-editing. Plus, a simple, straightforward, and attractive interface keeps Lucidchart accessible to everyone who needs to create diagrams. It’s reasonably priced, considering it has some value-adding features.
For its ease of use, sharp look, and great value, Lucidchart is an Editors’ Choice winner for diagramming software. SmartDraw shares the award and is also worth your consideration, especially if you’re in education, healthcare, or legal because it offers templates for those fields, and Lucidchart doesn’t.
The Bottom Line
Online diagramming app Lucidchart supports real-time collaborative editing, has well-stocked libraries of templates and objects, and offers many options for exporting and presenting your diagrams.
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