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Make an Idea Board 💡
How Padlet can be useful for mapping out thoughts
A Padlet is a digital bulletin board. Designed for teachers, Padlets work well for gathering thoughts in a visual way.
How to Create a Padlet
Step 1: At Padlet.com choose a board type. This can be a shelf-style, with vertical columns. Or a grid of horizontal items. Or an open canvas, a timeline or map.
Step 2: Now that you have a blank board, hit the plus sign to add an item. Give it a title or header. Below that add a link, an image from the Web, a Spotify song, a YouTube video, or a file from your computer.
Step 3: Continue adding as many additional items as you’d like. You can even click a button to record and add audio or video. Or keep it simple with plain text.
Step 4: Optionally invite others to collaborate. I usually use Padlets for group brainstorming or idea sharing.
Step 5: Optionally move items around, edit them, or add comments.
Step 6: Share, print, export, or embed the Padlet.
A Padlet is a simple canvas for adding, organizing and sharing information. It can be used flexibly for almost any purpose, from gathering ideas in a meeting to mapping out elements of an upcoming project.
What I use Padlet for ✨
I most often use Padlet when I'm teaching or leading workshops. Participants share input in response to questions I pose or share ideas on topics we’re exploring.
It’s great for icebreakers. For example, in one recent workshop we broke the ice by posting some of our silly guilty pleasures. With an international group I used Padlet’s world map template to invite participants to share a highlight about their place of origin. It was fun clicking on all the map locations people added to see their videos, images, links and comments.
It also works well for sharing project updates. In entrepreneurial journalism sessions, participants post project updates or value propositions on a shared board. Then everyone can read the collected posts and add comments.
5 ways to make the most of Padlets 🎈
Create a mood board
Gather sources of inspiration for something you’re working on, like great articles, videos or podcasts on a topic of interest. Or inspiring images of something you’re designing. Or recipes.
Invite a collaborator to add materials or comments. Or just use the Padlet for your own private inspiration.
Gather team ideas
Make a Padlet specifically for a project you’re working on. Invite others to use the audio or video or screen recording function to add their thoughts.
Map ideas over time
Padlet has multiple templates, including one for timelines. If you’re planning out the year ahead or reflecting back on the past year, either personally or professionally, you can use a timeline to neatly order things visually. Or create a timeline of someone’s life or of historical developments.
Map ideas geographically
One built-in template lets you drop pins in places around the globe, adding text, images, videos, or whatever else to spots on the map. I love using this to learn about places people are from. You can ask people to detail food they love from a particular place, or just an interesting fact or detail connected to their place of origin. There's a Spotify integration, so people can even add a song.
Collect input about a project
For work purposes, Padlet can be helpful to center your team on a single visual page. Use the Canvas template to let people draw connections between items. Or the Stream one to put everything in a simple top-to-bottom format.
Platforms: You can use Padlet on any Web browser, or with a dedicated app for any device you have. It works on iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, Chrome, and Windows. You can also add a browser extension that lets you click a bookmarklet to easily add something from the Web to any Padlet board.
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More ideas for using Padlet ⚡️
Draft an idea board for potential side projects in 2022
Make a bucket list with 10 things to do once travel is more feasible
Collaborate with a teammate on ways to improve your work
Design for visual impact. Padlet has a range of backgrounds you can use, including some cheesy clip-art style options. Avoid those. Pick a simple gradient background or upload a favorite image. Add an icon to liven up a page, like one of these: 🐼 🐸 🐮
Remake for efficiency. Rather than starting from scratch, I usually remake an existing board, selecting the option to strip out past posts. That saves me from having to adjust all the settings and design elements from scratch.
Give a 30-second demo. When using Padlet with a group for the first time, or when introducing a new template, I show people how it works by adding some text, a link, a visual and a comment. Those are the most important features to know. I’ve found that seeing someone do that once is enough to get people up and running.
More tips from the Padlet team, presented, of course, in a Padlet.
The Padlet Gallery shows some cool use cases
Grammy songs of the year since 2010
Pricing - Free to create up to three Padlets. $8/month to create an unlimited number. The organization-oriented “backpack” account is awkwardly designed and more expensive. I find the $8/monthly premium setup is simplest and best.
Padlets use a fixed grid, so you can’t resize individual items, though you can move them around.
It doesn’t have robust text formatting, and it’s not designed for text editing, so if you’re working with big blocks of text, other tools might be preferable.
The organizational account setup has a clunky, awkward settings menu.
Milanote is a related tool that provides a visual bulletin board for ideas. It has a wider range of features, more design flexibility, and more complexity. May be a better option for big multi-part projects, or one where you want to refine the look of each board element.
EasyRetro is great for letting people add input to Kanban-style boards. Unlike Padlet and Milanote, it focuses on simple text, not visuals, but also allows for voting. Designed for team retrospectives.
Jamboard is Google’s free visual brainstorming tool. Where Padlet shines, though, is in enabling an infinite canvas that lets you keep adding things, whereas Jamboard pages can quickly get filled up.
Read my post on how Trello is another great tool for organizing ideas in vertical columns
Check out other past posts in the archive
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