In any organization, making decisions involves balancing any number of factors to arrive at the wisest course of action. A decision tree can help businesses make tough choices, so we wanted to examine the best decision tree makers out there.
Venngage’s Decision Tree Maker offers drag-and-drop templates that you can customize with your brand identity and details about the choice at hand, making it ideal for those with tough decisions to make and not enough time.
Click to jump ahead:
- What is a decision tree?
- How can I create a decision tree?
- 1. Venngage Decision Tree Maker
- 2. GitMind
- 3. Lucidchart
- 4. ZingTree
- 5. Sketchboard
- 6. EdrawMax
- 7. Creately
- 8. SmartDraw
- 9. MindMeister
- 10. SlideTeam
- 11. Excel
- 12. PowerPoint
What is a decision tree?
A decision tree is a branch (pun intended) on the flowchart tree. Decision trees are used to visualize relevant information and outcomes involved in a number of possible choices. Generally, they consist of three arboreal elements:
- Root: The ultimate objective or major decision you’re trying to make.
- Branch: Different options or courses of action are available when making a decision. These can include associated costs and the likelihood that each outcome will occur.
- Leaf: Often shown either as a square (meaning another decision needs to be made) or circles (meaning the outcome is unknown), leaf nodes represent potential outcomes for each action.
Put them together, and you have something loosely resembling a tree. Decision trees should be easy to follow, as in the above example, though the more complex the decision, the more complex the decision tree.
Learn more about decision trees and how they can help you make better choices.
How can I create a decision tree?
While you can go super-analog (another tree pun) in creating your decision tree by simply drawing it on a whiteboard or piece of paper, we recommend using digital tools to make your decision tree. This is an excellent way to gather feedback and buy-in on decision-making from your entire team.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how to do it:
- Start with the big objective or decision to be made
- Draw arrows outward for every possible course of action, including costs associated and likelihood for success (if applicable)
- Add leaves representing the results of each course of action (remember that square leaf nodes denote another decision to be made, while circular ones indicate the outcome is uncertain)
Learn more about how to make an effective decision tree to help visualize your options.
1. Venngage Decision Tree Maker
With Venngage’s Decision Tree Maker, you can take advantage of drag-and-drop functionality that not only makes it easy to visualize the decision at hand but also ensure the decision tree follows your branding guidelines.
Simply use one of our templates or create one from scratch, adding your big choice at the top, then the branches and finally the leaves. With just a few clicks, you can create something to help your organization make data-driven decisions to elevate your organization.
Venngage business users also get access to priority support and multiple export options that will allow you to add your decision tree to just about any existing presentation.
Plus, you can use the My Brand Kit feature to add your logos, colors, and fonts to decision trees with the click of a button.
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GitMind offers both free and paid versions, but the tool doesn’t yet have much capability for decision trees. It was designed for mind maps, and that’s where it’s best used. We didn’t find it simple to attempt to recreate our decision tree using GitMind, but with some extra time, it would certainly be possible.
A yearly subscription of about $50 gets you access to added features like unlimited file exports and dedicated support, though if you’re in the market for a decision tree maker, GitMind likely won’t fit the bill.
Lucidchart’s free offerings are among the best of the bunch when it comes to making decision trees, though the visual style leaves a bit to be desired. Still, with a couple of free decision tree templates, you might luck into just what you’re looking for.
One drawback is that one of Lucid’s best features — node shapes auto-resize based on the text contained in them — often creates wonky-looking shapes, as you can see in the above screenshot.
Upgrading to a premium account, which gives you access to additional shapes and templates costs $33 for a month-to-month team account or about $325 per year if paid in full.
ZingTree was designed with call centers in mind, which makes its utility limited for uses outside of creating scripts for agents. While it would be possible to create a decision tree, and ZingTree does offer some templates you may find helpful.
Because ZingTree was designed for creating call center scripts, it’s light on the visual appeal offered through Venngage and other design-heavy tools. There are other baked-in aspects that relate to call center scripts that also limit flexibility.
A 30-day trial is free, while the cheapest monthly plan is $300 per user per year for up to 10 decision trees or scripts.
Sketchboard’s free-form tool is one of the most interesting on the list, allowing for both structured designs and a hand-drawn look. Several of the built-in shapes also have the look of something hand-sketched, and the virtual whiteboard tool is ideal for remote teams.
That said, creating a coherent decision tree or flowchart is a bit of a challenge, but if you’re looking for the sketched style, Sketchboard is an excellent option. One limitation is that when dragging and dropping shapes, the containers scale with the length of the text, making certain things appear more important than others that are of comparable importance.
Free plans allow users to have up to three editable boards and five users, while team plans start at $7 per month per user and go up from there.
EdrawMax from Wondershare is one of the most robust tools on this list, with dozens of types of diagrams, including user-generated ones to help illustrate the ways in which the tool can be used. Like other diagram-drawing tools, what you can create leans toward the technical and utilitarian side, but that may be appropriate for your uses.
Creating nodes and branches is simple and intuitive, though shapes containing text don’t auto-scale as you modify the type. This could be a challenge for those who need to create large and complex decision trees.
EdrawMax is free to start, and subscriptions start at $99 per year.
Creately is largely a collaboration tool, but the platform also offers several utilitarian charts, mind maps and more. While no decision tree templates are available yet, users can create from scratch or update a flowchart template to get the functionality they need.
Users with free accounts have limited options, so starting from scratch may be a challenge. However, working off templates can also be a challenge if your goal design doesn’t match the template.
Users can create up to three documents for free, though their shape options are limited. To access the full library of shapes, you’ll need to upgrade, which costs at least $5 per month.
SmartDraw is another robust design and sketch tool that’s user-friendly and intuitive. With many diagram options, including one of the few to offer decision tree templates, SmartDraw’s library is extensive.
Like most other diagram tools, the assets created with SmartDraw are functional and utilitarian, rather than being all that visually appealing.
Another major drawback of SmartDraw is that your free trial lasts only seven days, and the platform costs $10 per month for an individual plan and starts at $6 per month per user for a team plan.
MindMeister is one of the best tools for creating mindmaps, and while it can be used to create decision trees, it’s not exactly an intuitive process. Because the product is geared toward mind maps, its built-in systems make it tough to do anything else.
Still, for organizations that like the organic, freewheeling look of a mind map, using MindMeister to create a decision tree could be effective.
A basic account is free and includes up to three mind maps; upgrading costs $5 per month, while pro accounts start at $8.25 per month.
While SlideTeam doesn’t have a design tool of its own, it does provide a vast library of downloadable PowerPoint slides, including many decision tree templates. You’ll still need to update them in PowerPoint to get the most out of the slides.
Still, SlideTeam is a good option for businesses that don’t have the time to create their own decision tree in PowerPoint but still need to have one on hand for presentations. A few available templates were created with good design in mind, which also helps SlideTeam stand apart from some other tools on the list.
Plans start at $50 per month for one user.
For organizations that use data to drive decision-making, it can be tempting to try creating decision trees in Microsoft Excel, the default data-processing platform for thousands of organizations all over the world.
While it’s technically possible, there aren’t many great options for going about making an engaging decision tree in Excel. The easiest way is to use SmartArt diagrams, but these built-in options, while easy to work with, tend to be rigid.
This tool is also not free, and the full Microsoft 360 suite is $160 per year.
Among legacy tools, PowerPoint gives you the best chance of making a functional, effective decision tree. While the available library with the program doesn’t have any examples of decision trees, PowerPoint’s design tools make it possible (though not necessarily easy) to create a decision tree that’s both informative and engaging.
Because it’s also a Microsoft product like Excel, there are a couple of ways to go about creating a decision tree in PowerPoint, but both are fairly time-consuming. However, working from scratch in the program will give you the most flexibility.
Again, PowerPoint isn’t free, and you can expect to pay $160 per year for the full Microsoft 360 suite.
In summary: Decision trees can help organizations visualize options and make tough choices
Using Venngage for Business to create your decision trees lets you focus more on the possibilities for your business than developing a useful and engaging decision tree. Add your brand identity with one click, and encourage team collaboration.