Do you need to select a remote whiteboard tool, but don’t know how to choose? Miro and Mural are both popular remote whiteboard tools which seem very similar. We recently created the same workshop in both tools. This gave us a great opportunity to compare them especially for facilitators. Here is what we found.
Remote Whiteboard Tool Popularity
Personally we’ve used and seen both tools a lot in the past few years. We usually use whichever tool the company or team. we are working with is using. For our own work at Growing Agile, we tend to use Miro for brainstorming and Mural for workshops and courses. Originally this came out of being frugal. We could get 3 free boards in either tool and this helped us maximise this.
Then we created our first Ready-To-Use Workshop on Agile Testing. We had to decide which tool to provide the templates in. We ended up choosing both (and you can read more about that decision here). Creating the same board in both tools provided a useful comparison of features.
Mural claims that 95% of the Fortune 100 use their tool, and Miro claims that 99% percent uses theirs. I suspect both tools being used in nearly all large companies, so which one is really more popular? Our poll results showed the majority definitely favoured Miro.
At first glance both Miro and Mural provide an infinite canvas to work on. However the subtle difference that we only noticed when moving between both is that Mural has no concept of fixed size. Everything is relative to the size you are viewing. For example, you can make the font bigger or smaller, but you don’t set a particular font size. Miro in contrast has a fixed concept of size.
While this seems like a useful feature it leads to some unexpected behaviour in Miro. If you cut and paste between boards, or paste an image in, it might be much smaller or much larger than the board you are on, without you actually realising it. Also sometimes you might think your board is empty, only to realise you are just zoomed out very far, or zoomed in too close.
The Mural approach definitely seems to work better from a usability point of view.
Remote Whiteboard Tool Pricing
While at first glance the pricing structures are remarkably similar. 3 boards each with the free tier, and $8-12 per user for the cheapest plan depending on if you pay annually or not, with Miro being slightly cheaper. The thing that initially drew us to Mural over Miro was the ability to share a template with others from the free account. In Miro you can submit a template to the Miroverse, but if you want to share a template with other people you need a paid account.
Import and Export between remote whiteboard tools
Although both tools offer some ability to export and import, our experience of trying to duplicate a board from one tool to the other was that it is not easy at all. Maybe that’s intentional to make it difficult to migrate away from either tool, but it’s definitely not currently possible to export a board from one tool and import it to the other.
We first tried to export each frame as an image in Mural and then import into Miro – but no, the images we too big for Miro to import. Ok.
So we recreated the frames and then thought we’ll just copy the text across and it will be fine. But no. Miro has different fonts to Mural. Also within a text block you can only have one font and size – so now we needed multiple text blocks. We also couldn’t easily get icons to match those in Mural, so we had to find them on the web and bring them into Miro, but then we couldn’t change their colour to match the font colour. Ok.
Next we decided to just screenshot the text and icons and place them as an image in Miro. Yay! This worked, but only because the the image was small.
Neither tool wins here, so if you need to support both tools you might want to think about how best to achieve this. Fixed images you can import into both is likely good solution. Since we’ve decided to support both for our workshops, we will probably be experimenting with ways to make this simpler for ourselves. Let us know in the comments is your are interested in how we do this and we can share what we find works well.
Outline and hiding items
In our workshop we hide some frames and only reveal them during the course of the workshop. This is something many facilitators do, and in general we found this much easier to do in Mural through the outline. Miro doesn’t have an outline and you can only hide frames. We didn’t want to put a frame around every slide, so the next easiest thing was to place a grey block over the slide and lock it in place.
Links in remote whiteboards
Another minor different is how the tools show links. In Miro, it’s pretty intuitive, it just looks like a regular hyperlink – blue and underlined. In Mural you put the link on the container so the whole block of text is the link. Sometimes I have to look twice to realise it’s actually a hyperlink.
Results: Which remote whiteboard tool do we prefer?
Mural has a number of features like the outline and ability to easily hide and reveal content, which are clearly designed with facilitators in mind. On the other hand, Miro is more popular and has loads of templates available in the Miroverse for nearly everything.
So personally as a facilitator running a structured training course or workshop, we would likely go for Mural. As a team needing to collaborate on the fly and visualise something like a roadmap or a mindmap, we’d likely go for Miro.
The one thing we do know is we’d want to carefully choose the tool for something before we start since moving from one to the other with a half created board is currently quite painful and time consuming.