First of all. Good software is an asset. But I do want to stress the importance of the mind mapper. In my opinion mind mapping refers to the processing of information in the brain. So the mind mapper is fundamental to the success of a mind map.
I used to make hand-drawn mind maps, but nowadays I rarely do that. Mind maps on Mastermindmaps have been produced using various types of software.
On Mastermindmaps there are over 300 mind maps. They are made with iMindMap, iMindQ and iThoughtsX (in the early days I used MyThoughts, but the makers withdraw it from the market). The mentioned mind map programs are versatile and deliver well organised mind maps.
Design of your mind map is an important success factor. It determines how easy it is for a reader to understand what you have produced. Readability is about how you’ve packaged your content (read: Lee LeFever, The Art Of Explanation, 2013) and how easily it can be unpacked by the reader. The better the packaging, the easier it is for a consumer/client to read your mind map. Elements of good packaging are: ordering, navigation and design.
As a mind map is also a kind of communication tool, it should be easy to read. Lengthy text on branches reduces readability. A hierarchical structure like a mind map greatly helps readers to assess written content (Bonnie Meyer, 1982). As mind maps often tend to grow into very large structures, take care that the navigation remains smooth.
Start mind mapping with a goal – what do you want to map – and a clear sense of the intended users.
At the end of the day, value is about whether a mind map is beneficial and useful to the consumer. It’s about the magic fit between what you made (resources) and why people use it (benefit).