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Affinity diagrams

Bring clarity to the chaos with affinity mapping. After brainstorming ideas with your team, create an affinity diagram with Canva’s online whiteboard tools to categorize and distill all the data and generate rich insights.
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Create an affinity diagram online

No matter how many ideas are pitched, no matter the volume of research data, an affinity diagram will make sense of it all. Canva’s affinity diagram maker will guide your team as you brainstorm ideas and consolidate them into categories. Pick an affinity diagram example and bring your team into the discussion using collaborative tools from Canva Whiteboards. You can write ideas on individual sticky notes, then group them into as many sets as needed.

Infinite space made for unlimited ideas

Professionally designed templates to fast-track your workflow

Share and ideate with anyone, anytime on any device

Run a workshop with whiteboard elements, sticky notes, and a timer

Embed your affinity diagrams in Docs, presentations, and more easily

Easy online whiteboard tools and data visualization


How to create an affinity diagram

How to create an affinity diagram
Create an affinity diagram(opens in a new tab or window)

Create an affinity diagram(opens in a new tab or window)

What is an affinity diagram?

An affinity diagram sorts an overwhelmingly large amount of information into meaningful categories. The large volume of data or ideas usually comes from a brainstorming session or research results. In many cases, an affinity diagram is a work activity, where teams put their ideas on sticky notes, which are then grouped according to common themes. The resulting groups—called affinity groups or sets—help teams uncover relationships, generate insightful discussions, and formulate solutions that target the heart of the problem.

Why use affinity diagrams?

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Affinity diagrams are incredibly versatile; they’re used for everything from research to corporate. But no matter the application, an affinity diagram has one purpose: it sorts a huge number of data into sets, grouping like with like to organize ideas, facts, and opinions.

Get fresh insights and create workable solutions around the categories that emerge from your affinity map. If you’ve sorted a long list of end-user issues and feedback, you can springboard grouped ideas for the changes you’d like to implement and sort a timeline. When it comes to research data, you can cluster different information and plan the flow and structure when presenting them. Affinity mapping gives you solid groundwork for your next steps and future decisions.

An infinite canvas with unlimited sticky notes

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It’s not rare to see an affinity diagram with a hundred sticky notes—or more. When you build an affinity diagram on Canva Whiteboards, you’ll never run out of sticky notes or space to stick them onto. The infinite canvas gives you all the space you need for, say, a hundred answers from a research survey or a hundred crowdsourced ideas to improve your platform. There’s space for any number of affinity groups that emerge, and you can color-code sticky notes for every possible cluster. With such a spacious canvas, your team can easily spot trends, patterns, and affinities.

Workshop tools perfect for affinity diagramming

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Brainstorming is at the core of affinity diagramming. So run a smooth brainstorming session with our built-in workshop tools. Get everyone involved by sending a shareable link to your affinity diagram template. Invite a diverse group of people to get multiple perspectives and mindsets. Everyone can write their input on sticky notes and contribute to the diagram. Use a timer as you sort the notes into groups. Can’t finish it in one session? No worries. Canva autosaves your progress, so you can jump back to ideating and sorting anytime.

Affinity diagrams for any and all problem statements

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Whatever the problem, no matter how many opinions and ideas were generated, a Canva-made affinity diagram helps you get to a solution. Simply gather your teammates together and extract valuable insights from a huge amount of user opinions, stakeholder interviews, or observations from each team member. If you’re a research team, you can group qualitative survey answers into categories to uncover similar themes. And as a lone worker, an affinity diagram is a great way to organize cluttered research notes or recommendations from your colleagues. Lastly, affinity diagrams help teams reach a consensus on issues.

Turn ideas into solutions, together

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An affinity diagram workshop is much more fun and interactive on Canva Whiteboards. There are real-time mouse pointers to help the facilitator monitor progress. Your teammates can add comments or emoji reactions, making it super easy to collect feedback. If there are action items, you can tag people in the comments. Need to add more context? You can put graphs and tables(opens in a new tab or window) on your whiteboard. Sharing options are plenty, from downloading to embedding in Canva Docs or presenting it as a slides deck. With our affinity diagram maker, it’s easy to turn up the collaborative energy.

Start inspired with an affinity diagram template

Get a headstart on your next brainstorming session and choose one of our affinity diagram templates. You can duplicate all sticky note elements and add more clusters as your data requires. Select a affinity diagram example to get started with your design.
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Sort out endless ideas with an affinity diagram