Flowcharts are crucially important tools to design teams, enabling them to visually document complex workflows and processes in an intuitive way that’s easy for everyone to understand.
They’ve been widely used in the design community for years. But as many design teams have shifted to remote work, many flowcharts have become digital-first, leading to a growth in new flowchart making software, including Cacoo and Visio.
Whether your team uses flowcharts when designing customer journeys, mapping out technical workflows, or building decision trees, a flowchart is a great platform to communicate ideas and solve design challenges.
For years, Visio has been the established digital flowchart software. Owned by Microsoft, Visio comes with a range of tools, but it also comes with a hefty price tag that’s out of reach for many small to mid-sized design teams. That’s not the only challenge Visio users face: the platform isn’t especially intuitive, only integrates with other Microsoft tools, and offers limited collaboration features.
If you’re looking for a Visio alternative, you’re in the right place. Allow us to introduce you to Cacoo, a powerful Visio alternative built for the needs of agile design and development teams.
Meet Cacoo: a popular Visio alternative
Cacoo is an online flowchart maker software that helps design teams effortlessly create rich flowcharts, wireframes, diagrams, and more. It’s a powerful cloud-based platform that offers users a more efficient and effective solution than Visio, helping your team move from idea to innovation faster than ever.
Used by millions of people worldwide, Cacoo offers a wide range of flowchart creation features, including:
- Intuitive user experience: A simple drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for everyone (even non-designers!) to start using Cacoo.
- Real-time collaboration tools: Exchange comments, share ideas in a live chat thread, or hop on a video call – all from your Cacoo flowchart.
- Template library: Browse dozens of pre-built templates, including a wide selection of flowchart templates.
- Customization features: Add custom colors, fonts, and branding to your flowchart to customize it to your business or project.
- Integrations: Work smarter with integrations to the software your team already uses every day, from communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to every major cloud storage platform.
- And more: Truth be told, this list barely scratches the surface. Hundreds of flowchart shapes, dynamic charts, revision history, and presentation tools – Cacoo can do it all.
You’ll also find Cacoo to be a much more affordable option. You can try out many of Cacoo’s features on our free plan, and when you’re ready to upgrade, you’ll find simple pricing options for growing teams, established companies, and enterprise users.
We will walk you through creating, collaborating, and sharing your first Cacoo flowchart. We’ll also compare Cacoo to Visio, explaining why we (and plenty of reviewers!) believe Cacoo is a better option for small and mid-sized design teams.
PS If you’d like, you can create a Cacoo account and follow along below to create your very own flowchart. It’s free – you don’t even have to enter your credit card!
How to create flowcharts in Cacoo
Cacoo comes with a selection of pre-built flowchart templates that help your design process start quickly. It’s a more efficient way to work that allows you to spend more time focusing on the decisions that matter most.
Step 1: Starting a new project with a template or blank canvas
Once you’ve signed up for a Cacoo account, your first step is to set up a new diagram. You have two options here: you can select a pre-built template from the Cacoo Template Library, or you can start with a blank canvas.
Unless the needs of your flowchart are especially unique, it’s usually best to find a template you can customize. To find a template, click the Template icon on your Cacoo dashboard. A menu with a range of different categories will appear.
You’ll find several flowchart templates in the Research & Design and Planning & Management categories, or just search “flowchart.” Select the flowchart you’d like to use, and presto – your Cacoo diagram will open, complete with all the design assets you need to start.
If you’d prefer not to use a template, you can open a new diagram by clicking + Create diagram on your Cacoo dashboard. A blank diagram will open up, ready for you to bring your vision to life.
Step 2: Using Cacoo’s drag-and-drop editor
Customizing your flowchart is simple with Cacoo’s drag-and-drop editor. You can add new shapes, lines, text, and icons to your flowchart.
Using the menu bar on the left of the screen, click on the type of asset you’d like to add. By clicking on Cacoo’s shape library, you can browse hundreds of shapes and icons, including custom icons for AWS, Azure, and GCP technical architecture flowcharts.
Then, drag and drop design elements around your flowchart until everything is right. Multiple users can edit the same flowchart at once, making for a more efficient design process. You can use Cacoo’s smart features to align, resize, rotate, group, and arrange your flowchart elements.
Step 3: Customizing the design of your flowchart
Finally, it’s time to make your flowchart yours. Cacoo comes with various formatting tools that allow users to customize their flowcharts’ color, style, font, and theme.
To edit an element, simply click on it and select what you’d like to change from the menu bar that appears. You can change the color, line style, shadow, add a hyperlink, and more. To change the properties of multiple elements at once, drag your cursor over every element you’d like to change.
Users can also import custom images and designs, such as logos or design files from other tools, including Visio, into their flowcharts. Select the Import icon from the menu bar on the left-hand side of the screen and choose how you’d like to import your file.
How to collaborate on flowcharts in Cacoo
While you can use Cacoo alone, you’ll enjoy a far more efficient design process when you invite your teammates to collaborate on your flowchart. Cacoo offers a range of collaboration tools that help remote design teams work together to brainstorm, refine, and launch bold new ideas.
To get started, invite your team members to Cacoo. Administrators can add new users to their organization’s Cacoo account by tapping the Invite members button in the top menu. Add each team member’s email address, and we’ll send them an invite to activate their Cacoo account – it’s that simple.
Once your team joins you in Cacoo, it’s time to get to work. Add your team as collaborators on your Cacoo flowchart by clicking the Share button, specifying whether every person you add has owner, editor, or view-only access.
Once your team joins you in Cacoo, you can use the following collaboration features to work together as you refine your flowchart:
- Multi-user editing with live cursor: Several users can work on the flowchart together in real-time, with color-coded cursors that help everyone understand what their teammates are working on.
- Comments and sticky notes: Tag team members in comments with questions or feedback to send them a notification, or add a sticky note to convey a message about a particular element of your flowchart.
- Live chat: Exchange ideas and feedback in real-time with a dedicated chat thread of each unique Cacoo flowchart.
- Video calling: Sometimes, you need to talk out complex problems. Cacoo allows users to initiate video calls directly from your flowchart, ensuring efficiency and enabling more streamlined communication.
- Revision history: Understand how your flowchart has evolved and identify which team members made changes and when.
Using these tools makes it easy for your team to communicate, regardless of whether you work asynchronously or collaborate in real time.
How to share and export flowcharts in Cacoo
Once you’ve perfected your flowchart, you’ll often have to share it with other stakeholders, whether those are the leaders of your business or other members of your team.
Flowcharts are designed to simplify complex processes, making workflows easy to explain to a broader audience that might lack the technical knowledge your team possesses. Sharing the most up-to-date version of a flowchart is vital to keeping everyone aligned.
Cacoo offers users a variety of ways in which they can share and export their flowcharts.
Share diagram link
Every Cacoo diagram has a public link that can be toggled on and off. When activated, you can share this link with anyone – regardless of whether they have a Cacoo account. You can specify whether the people you share the link with can edit or only view your flowchart.
To share a diagram link, click the Share icon, then toggle on the Public link and specify your access settings. You can then copy the link to your clipboard or email it directly to the individuals you’d like to share your flowchart with.
Cacoo also comes with a built-in presentation mode, which can be accessed by clicking the Play icon in the top right corner of your diagram. Entering presentation mode shares your diagram in full-screen and hides all of your team’s comments, making this the perfect tool for presenting your work in an in-person or virtual meeting.
Embed in external platforms
You can embed your Cacoo flowchart in any web property, including internal wikis, intranet pages, and more. This is the perfect option for flowcharts that play an important role in business operations, ensuring teams can always see the most up-to-date version of your work.
Cacoo flowcharts can be embedded using a custom image link and embed code the platform generates automatically. To access this code, click Share, toggle on your Public link, and then copy the embed code and paste it into your web property’s HTML.
Alternatively, you can download your Cacoo flowchart in various formats, including PPT, PDF, SVG, and more. Think of these downloads as snapshots in time: the files won’t update as you make further changes to your flowchart; you’ll have to download them again.
To download a file, click the Export / Print icon in the top right corner of your Cacoo diagram. Click Export and then select the file type you want to download. Files can be exported directly to your device or a range of cloud storage platforms, including Google Drive and Dropbox. You can also print your diagram directly from Cacoo by selecting Print.
How to compare Cacoo with Visio in terms of efficiency
If you’re looking for a more efficient way to manage your team’s flowchart creation process, you’ll love Cacoo.
We’re admittedly a little biased, but we believe Cacoo is a far more efficient Visio alternative at a fraction of the price. It’s not our intention to mislead you: if we over-promise and under-deliver, you’ll be disappointed, and nobody wants that. That’s why, in the comparison below, you’ll see plenty of independent testimonials and reviews, plus an objective analysis of how Cacoo and Visio stack up when it comes to efficiency.
But first, let’s tackle the question of why efficiency is so important in a flowchart maker. Greater efficiency isn’t just nice to have: it’s a game changer when it comes to completing your projects, the costs your business incurs in doing so, and the quality of your end product. Today, businesses have endless processes and workflows to document in flowcharts. The more efficient your process of creating high-quality flowcharts is, the better it is for you, your business, and your customers.
Cacoo and Visio review comparison
Enough from us. What do users have to say about Cacoo and Visio?
On independent review site Capterra, Cacoo receives a rating of 4.7 / 5.0. Here’s what reviewers have to say about Cacoo’s flowchart making tools:
“When I do process mapping or flowcharting to any systems, sub-systems, or components, Cacoo’s toolbelt and customization options were flawless. Default templates are useful and very easy to modify depending on your needs. Drag and Drop editor is crazy easy.”
– Mark Noel G, Project Manager + UX Designer
“Cacoo is easy and powerful. I like the ease of which you can create new diagrams, flowcharts, and wireframes.”
– Mack J, Software Developer
Visio receives an average rating of 4.5 / 5.0 on Capterra. Here’s what reviewers have to say:
“It’s the standard program every company uses to create flowcharts or org charts. It’s not user-friendly and could be better. It also takes some time to learn, so expect a learning curve.”
– Sylvia R, Information Technology Analyst
“Unless you really need the power of Visio – or money is not an issue – there are other products that can produce basic flow charts and process diagrams.”
– Nigel D, Managing Director, Human Resources
Cacoo and Visio: Price comparison
There’s no doubt that price is an extremely important issue for many software buyers, playing a key role in the decision-making process.
At Cacoo, we take a simple, upfront approach to our pricing. We offer a free plan, and for professional and team users, Cacoo is priced at $6 per user per month, with discounts for annual subscriptions.
Visio offers several different pricing options. Users can buy a one-time Visio license limited to one PC. Under this model, Visio Standard costs $309.99, while Visio Professional costs $579.99. Alternatively, users can purchase Visio through a monthly subscription. Visio Plan 1 costs $5 per user per month, while the more advanced Visio Plan 2 currently costs $15 per user per month.
The bottom line: Cacoo vs. Visio
There’s no question that Visio is a powerful tool. But equally, that power can significantly hamper your team’s efficiency. Reviewers note that Visio is not particularly easy to use, with a steep learning curve for new users. If you’re using it for highly complex design projects, that might be acceptable to you. But if you just need to create flowcharts, Cacoo is a better option.
Cacoo is renowned for its ease of use, offering designers a simple, affordable platform that doesn’t sacrifice any of the features required to create and share effective flowcharts. And with a wide range of collaboration tools, integrations to your favorite apps, and an extensive template library, Cacoo also makes for much more efficient workflows.
Looking for a point-by-point comparison? Here’s a quick summary:
|Ease of Use (Capterra Rating)
|4.7 / 5.0
|4.3 / 5.0
|Multi-user editing, comments, chat, video call, sharing, and more
|13, including Slack, Teams, OneDrive, Visio, and More
|Microsoft Office Suite + Atlassian Confluence
If you’re ready to take the first step toward a more efficient way to create flowcharts, sign up for your free Cacoo account now: we can’t wait to see what you create.