Online whiteboards are some of the most noticeable examples of how the workspace has changed since people shifted their work environments remotely. They allow you to engage with many different activities online and operate in real-time with the rest of your team. If you haven’t used an online whiteboard, or have just begun looking for one, it can be confusing to break down the differentiating factors that each possesses and what they bring to the table. 

That’s why we’ve created this easy, streamlined guide for you to better understand the market of online whiteboards and which ones will benefit you the most.

If you are interested in learning more about visual collaboration, check out the Fresco blog, and take a look at the Ideascale blog where we recently wrote an article detailing four exercises to try in your next virtual whiteboard session. Check it out!

People collaborating together, showing the potential of online whiteboards.

Best Online Whiteboards

Here we will talk about the best online whiteboard tools for you to use in your next collaboration session, or just to mess around with. For your convenience, we’ve separated them into paid programs and free apps, so scroll and find which works best for you.

Paid Online Whiteboards 

Mural

Mural is one of the most commonly used virtual whiteboards, and when you use it it’s easy to understand why. Mural is a very professional tool that allows people to work on a litany of different templates and collaborate with large teams.

Mural is perfect for teams working on optimizing their workflows, creating journey maps, or conducting virtual workshops of any size. They allow people to congregate and collaborate with minimal restrictions, and their various collaboration features are extremely engaging. 

For example, the ability to work in incognito allows people the creative freedom to express their thought processes on the board without worrying about being affected by the contributions of others. In a similar vein, focus view allows you to focus specifically on the contributions of a single person or a certain area, concentrating everyone’s attention on what’s most important. Collaborative boards can get very convoluted so being able to focus on smaller areas is super helpful in understanding and comprehending the material at hand.

Mural allows you to access the entirety of their functionality and template library for 30 days before asking you to upgrade to a paid subscription, meaning you can get a really good sense of how to use their tool before committing to a paid plan.

Due to the many different established & professional templates Mural utilizes, they are a leading player in the online whiteboard industry. You can also use Mural as a traditional whiteboard, and it works very well like that, but due to the vast number of complex templates they provide, we think they are best suited as a workshop and optimization tool.

A representation of what using online whiteboards looks like, with people collaborating and organizing on a shared board.

Miro

Miro, unlike Mural, focuses heavily on replicating the abilities of traditional whiteboards rather than focusing on complex professional templates. Miro has a ton of features that focus on the fast and flexible usability of its tools and allows people to collaborate on whiteboards easily. 

The best word to describe Miro is “freedom”. You have the freedom of unlimited board space so you never run out of room to collaborate, and are able to place and organize notes incredibly easily and in a way that is easily understood by your entire team. 

Not only do you have all the features and more that traditional whiteboards excel in, but you also are able to integrate simple, easy-to-use diagrams and elements to aid in your collaborative efforts.

If you are looking for an online whiteboard that mimics the functionality of a traditional one and more, look no further than Miro. 

Miro grants you access to three free boards to use extensively before asking that you upgrade to a paid subscription in order to access all of their dynamic features. You are also able to access and conduct virtual workshops through Miro, similar to Mural, but we think their best work comes as a direct whiteboard replacement.

RyeBoard

RyeBoard is a very unique virtual whiteboard, and in terms of functionality operates very differently than the previous two options. Where Miro and Mural try to replicate traditional whiteboarding more, RyeBoard serves as a space where you can plan, visualize, and integrate your content.

Its main differentiating feature is the fact that it operates through cards which you can place anywhere on your board and integrate between different boards. Because of this integration, you are able to connect your entire workspace and synchronously update everything. 

Multiple people collaborating together putting their different skills to work.

RyeBoard is especially helpful for teams that work on multiple projects in tandem because of the synchronicity of your tiles. This tool would operate best as a part of a larger digital workspace, and while it might not provide the same exact features that tools like Mural and Miro provide, it can be extremely helpful if you are working with a lot of outside content and have many intersecting features.

On RyeBoard you are able to access three free boards, but similar to Miro, you are only able to access the premium features through a paid subscription.

Free Online Whiteboards

Aww App

Aww App is a unique whiteboard experience that is best if you are not quite sure if you want to invest in a paid virtual whiteboard. Aww App allows you to access a whiteboard immediately, without needing to login in, create an account, or anything. They prioritize collaboration and want to make it as easy as possible for you to do just that.

Beyond whiteboarding, the Aww App doesn’t have as much as the other paid tools do, but for people simply focused on creating solid notes and whiteboards this is a great option. Especially for students who just want to diagram some ideas with their group, this is an incredibly easy, fast, and flexible way to do it.

Unfortunately, the Aww App will not be directly accessible from its own platform and will transition to be a part of Miro shortly. It should remain accessible until the end of April, and after that, it will merge as part of Miro. Hopefully, it remains a free tool for people to use and collaborate on when it becomes part of Miro.

People working together online, showing how important online whiteboards are to collaboration.

Fresco

At Fresco, we pride ourselves in trying to accommodate the needs of the user while also providing slightly unique functionalities that help improve the daily experience of collaboration

These features could be the unique and direct way we handle note placement or the simple and inherent canvases we have allowing you to prioritize, organize, or plan any way you need.

Also, at Fresco we are integrating a lightweight task manager into the tool itself. Most online whiteboards force you to outsource this ability to another visual collaboration tool, but we believe that taking your collaboration to the next steps is critical in achieving your goals, so we seek to make it possible on the same platform.

Fresco is a growing company that wants to reimagine the flexibility and accessibility of collaboration, and hopefully, we can help you do just this. At the end of the month, we will be launching the first version of our product, and we would love for you to test it out in the workplace and see for yourself how it aids your collaboration.

Conclusion

Virtual whiteboards are incredibly flexible tools that are able to fuel collaboration when you can’t collaborate in person. While many have already begun to adopt these tools, many people have yet to fully realize their collaborative potential, and hopefully, this guide helps you understand the in’s and out’s of these common online whiteboards.

Here are the top virtual whiteboards for you to try in your remote workspace.

  1. Fresco — Thanks to Fresco’s direct method of placing notes and their built-in task manager, they should be considered for any collaboration project.
  2. Mural — Thanks to Mural’s extensive list of established templates, it is one of the most popular tools for conducting virtual workshops and doing quick and effective brainstorming exercises
  3. Miro — Miro’s easy-to-use tools make it a top-tier candidate for whiteboarding and brainstorming, and it can also be used to facilitate virtual workshops effectively.
  4. RyeBoard — RyeBoard’s flexible and unique interface makes it a powerful tool for organizing and integrating your projects into one coherent workspace.
  5. Aww App — Aww App’s free interface makes it a great option for students and beginners, but it will be merging with miro at the end of April.

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