Why Mood Boards Matter

It has happened to everyone. You spend countless hours producing a beautiful, pixel-perfect comp only to have it rejected by the client because it isn’t what they were envisioning in their mind’s eye. It’s the dreaded “I’ll know it when I see it” curse.

You get sent back to the drawing board, your ego and the budget take a hit, and everyone is frustrated by the process. After this happens a few times you realize that getting the client involved earlier in the process can make a huge difference in the outcome of your design presentations.

As designers, we often think we have all the answers. It is our job to know what looks good and we take that responsibility seriously! But even if you are talented and your work is top-notch its easy to misread client expectations. Words fail miserably when trying to translate design concepts. What one person calls “edgy” another might see as chaotic.

And if your client hasn’t been very forthcoming about what they want their new site to look like it’s even harder to hit the mark in one shot. Visuals communicate things that words cannot. A picture is worth a thousand words, and mood boards are a great tool to create that picture for your client.

Pictures are worth a thousand words

 

What exactly is a mood board?

Mood boards (sometimes called inspiration boards) are used in a variety of disciplines. You’ve no doubt seen them used for Interior Design, where fabric swatches and paint chip samples are grouped together on a poster to show a homeowner what type of atmosphere the new decor will create. They are also used frequently in Fashion to highlight trends and styles. In essence they are a compilation of inspirational elements used by designers to flesh out ideas at the beginning of a design project.

A mood board is extremely useful for establishing the aesthetic feel of a web site. It usually fits into the process somewhere after wireframes and before design mockups. Things that can be explored in the mood board include photography style, color palettes, typography, patterns, and the overall look and feel of the site. Soft or hard? Grungy or clean? Dark or light? A rough collage of colors, textures and pictures is all it takes to evoke a specific style or feeling.

The mood board is intentionally casual; it lets the designer start with broad strokes and get feedback before too much time is invested in the wrong direction. Think of it as rapid visual prototyping.

Color Palette

 

How do I create one?

The first thing you should do is evaluate the project and pick the mood board style that will work best. There are many different ways to present a mood board. The direction you choose will be based on the time allotted, personal work habits and most importantly your client’s personality.

 

Style 1: Loose Collage

If they are big thinkers who aren’t obsessed with the details, chances are they will love this part of the process and won’t require refined mood boards. A loose collage will work just fine to convey the type of look and feel you are going for. An example of this style is below:

Collage Style Mood Board

This is the easiest way to create a mood board because it can be thrown together quickly and does not force you to make decisions about smaller details such as fonts or specific colors. Grab bits of inspiration from anywhere you choose. Scan in things you find around you or search online for suitable pictures and textures. Sometimes it is helpful to include screenshots of other sites with a similar look and feel.

While this is the most time-efficient and fun style to make, it can unfortunately be confusing and distracting to clients who do not fully grasp the idea.

 

Style 2: Refined Template

If your client has not worked with many designers or marketing people, or if they are extremely detail-oriented, you may want to take a more formal approach. In this style, a template is created to showcase the different elements. An example of this style is below:

Template Style Mood Board

A color palette is defined, font treatments such as a heading and subheading are chosen, and items like button styles and photography can also be worked in. A standardized template will help your client to focus on the featured elements.

I typically create 3 mood boards for any design project. Depending on the style, I spend 1 to 3 hours on each. Before starting I come up with a list of adjectives for each board. An example might be:

  • Dark, glossy, slick, modern, edgy, hard, aggressive
  • Soft, muted, round, layered, elegant, realistic
  • Colorful, rough, sketchy, bright, illustration

These adjectives serve as guidelines as I pull together the elements. The words (and boards) should have strong differences. Including a wide range of styles is important for getting the most out of this process.

 

How do I present it?

Prepare your client by explaining how the mood board fits into your process. Tell them what you hope to get out of the review and let them know that any and all feedback is welcomed at this point.

When you are presenting, clue your client in to the inspiration behind each of your boards. Your starter list of adjectives is helpful here. Remind them that nothing on the boards is set in stone and that they are simply a tool used to focus the design process.

You will find that in most cases a client will know which mood board feels right to them within seconds. If they need to see a few additional options, making revisions at this stage is quick and painless.

 

What are the benefits?

Faster mockup production

Some clients will argue that they don’t want to pay for mood boards and would rather go straight to mockups, but a few short hours spent up front can save countless hours down the line. With a visual guide created and a clear vision of where you’re headed it’s much easier to jump right in to the visual prototyping process. There is no blank-canvas syndrome to deal with, and no gnawing feeling that you are wasting your time on a concept they might not like. Best of all, there are no big surprises. Since using mood boards I have yet to run into a project that was a complete do-over.

Smoother client buy-in

Additionally, early client participation makes them a bigger part of the project. When clients feel involved they are more likely to trust you. Mood boards make it clear that you are listening to them and considering their input. They also gain insight into the thinking behind your decisions, dispelling the all-too-common notion that designers choose everything on a whim. Knowing why you picked something will often keep personal preferences (ie/ the client’s favorite color is purple so she would like to see that as a background) from creeping in as change requests.

Less frustration, more fun

Mood boards are so much fun, they hardly feel like work. Designing loosely lets you brainstorm, explore and play with different styles without all the limitations a layout (and coding realities) will later impose. They also keep revision cycles to a minimum, something every designer can appreciate.

 

Examples

Now that you know why they’re useful, it’s time to make them a part of your process. Not quite ready to jump in? Check out a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Below, a collage mood board created for an online store selling baby clothing and accessories.

Collage Style Mood Board

Adjectives they chose to describe their brand include stylish, friendly, and modern. The collage suggests a blue and brown color scheme, a mix of handwritten and serif fonts, rounded buttons and a few handmade elements.

For comparison, here is an example of a template mood board for the same project:

Template Style Mood Board

The template takes a more streamlined approach, dropping the handmade elements but keeping the blue and brown color scheme. The color palette, patterns, type treatments and photo usage are all more explicit.

If you need more ideas, the Flickr Inspiration Boards group has a great collection from designers of all kinds.

Try using mood boards in your next project. They’re a fun, efficient and effective way to communicate big design ideas.

Written exclusively for WDD by Mindy Wagner. She is a web designer at Viget Labs and has worked in both print and web design for over 8 years. She has a degree in Electronic Media Art and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Have you used mood boards or are you considering them? Please share your comments below.

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  • http://zunostudios.com Jonathan Lackey @zuno

    Good post.
    Back in the day I did mood boards for every branding/re-branding corporate identity campaign. Really got away from them once I started doing mostly web stuff. What a dumb move on my part. Mood boards can save a lot of time and help focus in on what the client “wants”. Also fun for getting ideas out on the creative side.

  • Allen

    Nice article with some real content, unlike lots of vacuous design articles! Thanks for taking the time, comes at just the right time for me…

  • http://www.kidcapricious.com Kid C

    I like this; good post.

    You’re right in pointing out the value of a mood board. It can help give clients a more tangible idea of what you are visualising for the style and feel of a product/campaign/website.

    And as everyone knows, finding that equillibrium between a clients desires and a designer/creatives vision is a very fine line!

    Thanks.

    C.

  • http://slob.org.uk/ Kev

    I think its a fantastic idea and one that I shall be using more in 2009

    I’ve always looked at colour schemes more so than actual collages or explicit templates so this will be a good way to increase sign off.

    I think the templated version looks more coherent to a would be client than the collage, the collage can look confusing if the client does not grasp the concept or takes the colours to heart. Emotions play a huge part when it comes to using colour.

    I will be using the templated version as it captures the essence of how the page could look and gives the client more of an idea to bounce discussions off, considering that text plays a bit part of it too, putting in how the typography affects the look is really important

    excellent post and one that should help keep mockup revisions low

    I would also add that showing the revisions within the area they are being shown is also good, so that clients and designers can see how the mood boards progressed over discussion and then what the final outcome was from the mockup based on the mood boards

  • http://www.constantskeptic.com/ the constant skeptic

    Great article. This gives me an idea to start a website that has mood board templates that can be easily created using common colors swatches/stock photos/screenshots/etc. Thanks!

    • http://www.birkenbihl.com veraFbirkenbihl

      the idea of having these mood board on your own website is great. i am one of these clients for many book-covers and some web-sites in the past and i got so mad many times when i am presented with finished products totaly out of my liking. what has happend to the SCRIBBLE to start with? then you might follow up with a mood boar. because in the necessary phase of scibbling you find out whether or not your client does have very disctinct ideas. if so, have him/her help you develop, if not offer to show him/her some esamples to chose from (so that he/she does not have to admit that he/she does nat have an idea. N.B. je less idea the client has the happier he/she will be for your help. and vice cersa. if i do have a clear idea i hate designers trying to push their ideas at me.
      remember: only happy clients will come back or do buzz marketing for your services.
      vfb

  • http://www.studio7designs.com Studio 7

    Fantastic post about a great process that really helps with building client designer relationships.

    You hit another point that really is important, so make sure when you hand off the mood board to your clients, to make sure that you let them know why you chose the colors, and also, make sure that you don’t say “what do you think”… rather “how do you think these colors and textures will work with the demographic that visits your site.

    The focus should always be on the clients and visitors to the site you are designing, and by guiding the conversation with your client towards thinking outside what they like, and focusing on the demographic, the end result will be something that is focused on usability rather then personal likes.

  • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

    @Studio7: you have a great site design – it’s been a favorite of mine for a while!

    …and thanks for your comments and insights!

    Walter

  • http://www.studio7designs.com Studio 7

    Thank you so much Walter :)

    I get so much inspiration and energy for new ideas and projects here, keep up the hard work!

    Can’t wait to see the next post!

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  • http://vanishdesign.com Tim

    I’m not sure how this helps the “I’ll know it when I see it” client. I think if you hear those words out of their mouth you should walk. I look at the list on the last pic (“soft, warm, comforting”) and I think that is not difficult to come up with.

    I like the template boards, but the inspiration boards don’t communicate much. I look at it and I see nothing. If I were the client, I’d be asking what the site is going to look like.

  • http://www.ronniesan.com RonnieSan

    I do something called a competitive design analysis in which I take the sites of their top three competitors or inspiration sites and extract the colors, typography, image style, patterns, etc. Then I give recommendations based on that data. So far it has worked really well in getting feedback from clients that normally do not know what they want.

    • AlanW

      “I do something called a competitive design analysis in which I take the sites of their top three competitors or inspiration sites and extract the colors, typography, image style, patterns, etc.”

      I have another word for it… it’s called plagiarism.

  • Jeff

    I agree with Tim. I’m a developer who has worked with a variety of designers over the past 10 years and found mood boards to be a waste of my time and the client’s money.

    Mood boards are nothing more than a bunch of random crap in the designer’s brain spewed out on paper. Design is only worthwhile to a client in polished form. It’s impossible to tell whether a design idea will pan out until it has been brought to it’s conclusion. The mona lisa was just another boring sketch until davinci added the last coat of paint.

    Having a creative process a way to generate ideas is important, but present something useful. Abstract art is for museums, not clients.

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  • http://cubicleninjas.com Josh of Cubicle Ninjas

    Wonderful article! I’ve begun institutionalizing our process and I’m going to have to borrow some of these ideas.

    I’ve always done a digital mood board, but never thought of it in these terms. Clients never see what I pull beforehand, and instead I create three full designs based on these approaches. This way their first impact is seeing three unique and branded designs.

    I’d agree that the way we work – a physical board would never fly. Most clients have a hard time visualizing when they see the final result, let alone a collage. But if it gets everyone motivated, I’m happy you’ve found such a nice method! :D

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  • http://www.viget.com Doug Avery

    Jeff, I think that moodboards fail as a strict explanation of ‘what will happen’ in the final design, but moodboards become more valuable when you’re presenting a client with 3 or 4. Once you’re showing multiple moodboards, you’re giving clients say over the look and feel of their site without sinking the time required to make 3 or 4 full comps.

    I’ve worked with both methods (3 designers, 3 comps / 3 designers, 3 boards, 1 comp), and the moodboard process often reduces the amount of time wasted. With a comps-only method, one designer might spend 15 hours constructing a careful layout that gets thrown out for being “too serious”, but a moodboard that gets the same response might take as little as 3 hours.

    I think clients should be suspicious of a designer who wants to present *just one* moodboard, but multiple boards provide the contrast clients and designers need to really understand what clients want and how to make it.

    • http://cubicleninjas.com Josh of Cubicle Ninjas

      One quick note, is that it only take us 4-5 hours to do three fully varied sets of comps. This makes real deliverables in just a little bit more time then creating mood boards.

  • http://www.twitter.com/markpollard Mark Pollard

    Great post, great approach. I think boards with a clear articulation of the creative/design idea (words only), and then presenting ‘inspiration’ and then mood boards helps take clients on your journey and will give them structure to provide feedback in (eg they may like the idea but not the mood boards so you can have an easy, constructive conversation around specifics).

    Mark
    Digital strategy on Twitter

  • http://www.ideamarket.ca Carson Pierce

    Loved the article; it’s the best explanation to date I’ve seen of what mood boards are and why they’re important. We use the templated style and actually have the client sign off on it. This locks in some design elements such as fonts and colors and allows us to focus on other aspects of the design. Just one disagreement, and that’s where you talk about doing up three very diverse mood boards. If you don’t know by this step the general mood of the design, you’ve missed a step. Before you even start with a mood board, you should have already met with the client and gotten an idea of what direction to go, be it through a questionnaire, competitive analysis, audience profiles, etc.

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  • http://mindywagner.net Mindy

    Jeff, it may seem like a bunch of random crap, but if you’re a good designer you haven’t chosen things at random and thrown them on the page. You’ve crafted a (very rough) style that you can follow through on when it comes down to the real layout. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve found them immensely helpful for communicating with clients. It also kick-starts the final mockup design – you get to jump in with some direction, not just a blank page staring back at you.

    Also, I’m with Doug – I would always present at least 2 if not 3 mood boards. Variety is important and sparks a lot of good discussion. It also helps bring the client into the feedback loop early and gives them a sense of ownership.

    I’m constantly amazed at the great feedback I get early on when using mood boards. I think it shaves a lot of time off the layout reviews. Our review cycles seem to be very short and easy (mostly minor updates only, no “replace everything blue with yellow and make it glossy”) when mood boards are used.

    Also, questionnaires are great (we do those too) but if you are dealing with more than one stakeholder during the early stages, you’re likely getting competing ideas about what the site should be. Mood boards can help get everyone on the same page.

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  • http://www.sapphiremonkey.com Kelly Johnson

    I like the general concept of the idea but I think there are valid points in all of these posts.

    A clear direction and strategy for what the site is to accomplish should come first. Then, the content. Once those are known, flavors for the visual and actual structure/working (moo tools, flash, just css? etc) come into play.

    I find that clients need to see what I’ve always called ‘flat screens’ which are just polished virtual sketches. For me, I can put together ideas and designs as quickly as I can basic color schemes and modular thinking so with the screens, I’m one step ahead when development starts.

    I’m also fairly lucky when initially speaking with most of my clients as they have examples in mind of sites they like and do not like. I simply question why on both accounts and it really helps zero in on my next move.

  • http://www.shelloftheuniverse.com Joey

    This is an amazing post!

    I am a Fashion student who has recently gone freelance design work, and Mood Boards are a life saver! I go to the first meeting with 3, and than I create two drafts.

    What a wonderful article, thank you.

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  • http://www.rocketgenius.com Kevin

    I’ve been using website mood boards for the past couple of years with great results. They have really helped to streamline the design process and help the client to focus and understand the core elements of the design, rather than getting lost in the details of the layout in early phases.

    The key to success with this technique is to do as the author suggests, “clue your client in to the inspiration behind each of your boards.” Let them know that you’ve spent time considering their goals, needs, their brand, their message and their target audience. Explain how your choices are going to create the mood they’re looking for.

    I posted some of my early examples along with a template file here at the URL below if you’d like to take a look. http://tinyurl.com/5qy34j

    • Rachael

      Hi Kevin,

      The zip file for the templates has been removed from Box? Any chance of reposting please?

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  • http://dezinerfolio.com Navdeep

    Nice article… I like this approach :)

  • http://esquareda.com Eric Anderson

    Excellent write-up on a great subject! Looks like you just fed me my New Years resolution. USE MOOD BOARDS.

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  • http://www.stucollett.co.uk Stu Collett

    A great article! Moodboards are really important to establish an effective art direction. They can easily be dropped in the process, so it’s great to see them explained in detail here.

    Thanks very much.

    Stu.

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  • http://rebelmaker.wordpress.com Ian Hutchinson

    Hey, Thanks for the article on mood boards. I heard of the idea somewhere else, but there wasn’t really a good explanation of what they were and how to use them.

    I kinda get stuck in the same kinda ballpark in terms of design when I just start a project, so hopefully mood boards will help me get the right idea straight away.

  • james

    Mood boards are a waste of time, when time is a factor. In the professional design world time is money. If you’re a professional designer you should be able to deliver a strong concept without wasting time with such a trivial approach. It’s better practice to put together 3 rough comps from you’re professional instinct, and pitch them to you’re clint, not a mood board. If you have to do a mood board keep it in the studio.

  • dominik

    james is pretty much right, but there’s no questino or doubt that this is a great way of approach to the client and a great link between the designer’s ideas and concepts and the later work

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  • Russpears

    Inspirational Boards should be in-house as a preliminary visual tool for each designer.

    Mood boards should be prepared with “key words” and attempt to find a general area for the look. No doubt (3) should be done with the intent to gain better client/designer focus for the mock up/roughs.

    Style Boards should be a part of a client hand off package at the end from which future marketing campaigns can be drawn.

    Does this seem to work for a distinction?

  • http://www.royzy.co.uk Roy Nottage

    Jeff, if it is ‘random’ crap you are putting down, YOU are doing it wrong.

    I’ve found mood boards are always great for kick-starting ideas when you need inspiration.

  • Erica

    I love creating mood boards… but I have only done them (apparently) ‘the old fashion’ way… glue sticks, foam core, exacto knife and all!!! I believe somebody near the top of the comments said something about creating a website for software for making mood boards…??

    What does everybody use to create the online/computer generated mood boards?? Software?? Website?? I’m not sure what to use (that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg)!!

    Please let me know what everybody is using!! Thanks! PS: I’m a MAC user!!!

  • http://www.RealityHosting.ca DaveRH

    I’m going to chime in and agree with Jeff and Tim. Mood boards area waste of time. Can you use them to end up with a comp the client will like? Sure! However, can you do it with a proper consultation and gathering the right information? Yes, and it takes less time from your team and the client. Time = Money and any time you save is valuable.

    We use verbal communication to get the clients needs identified and we don’t have trouble pleasing even the dreaded “I’ll know it when I see” clients.

  • http://www.mr-web-design.com Matt

    When I meet in person with someone who wants a website I always bring a mood board with me. I just use some old paint samples from home depot with some magnets on them and a magnetic dry eraser board. Usually the client has fun playing with the colors and all I have to do is stand there.

  • http://shufflebrain.com Amy Jo Kim

    Great article! And lots of great stuff the comments – particularly this one:

    “When I meet in person with someone who wants a website I always bring a mood board with me. I just use some old paint samples from home depot with some magnets on them and a magnetic dry eraser board. Usually the client has fun playing with the colors and all I have to do is stand there.”

    Brilliant. Talk about getting the client involved! :-)

  • http://jamesreeve.info James Reeve

    I am a big fan of mood boards myself. I like you how you define 2 distinct styles. Love the site, great posts.

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  • http://oureconomy.org Economy Forum

    Wonderful article, thank you.

  • Janice Sclafani *~*TheGrinningDoggy*~*

    Another great article.

    While some felt mood boards were a waste of time for them, it should not be deemed a waste of time *period*.

    I feel mood boards are going to be helpful to a designer, based on what type of client they have on their hands.

    Some people you just know not to bother with a mood board- while others will welcome it.

    Many clients have a vague notion in their head of what they want.

    It feels fuzzy to them, but they still have a gut feeling and a diffused vision of what they have in mind.

    Imagine how frustrating it is, for them to not be able to articulate what they are looking for!

    And that is why you hear the infamous line of” I will know it, when I see it.”

    The designer’s job is to bring the clients fuzzy idea & diffused vision into *focus* and get a clearer idea for all concerned, if by showing them a mood board, if they are heading in the right direction to what the client is looking for.

    Mood boards offer a way to steer them to conceptualizing their design goals more clearly.

    I would never knock something that works for some- and doesn’t work for some.

    That tells me it apparently does work!

    And anything that works, should not be discarded as useless.

    I believe we should use all that is at our disposal when trying to assist the client.

    As for mood boards? It is ultimately up to each person as to whether they want to use them.

    I just figure it is better to offer them and see if it helps, than to never even bother to implement them.

    You want to make your job easier- not harder.

    And if you don’t bother to use them, you’ll never know if your job could have been made easier.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Janice Sclafani

  • http://www.qualinsoft.com/ Web

    Great article!
    Hey, Thanks for the article on mood boards. I heard of the idea somewhere else, but there wasn’t really a good explanation of what they were and how to use them.

    I kinda get stuck in the same kinda ballpark in terms of design when I just start a project, so hopefully mood boards will help me get the right idea straight away.

  • overrated designer

    Instead of making mood boards, ask the client to point you to 5-6 websites and ask which one he/she likes and ask them to tell what they like or dislike about them.

    The client’s taste is what matter and not your “mood board”. If the client shows you sites that look like crap, you can throw away that creative mood board you showcased in your post and try to make your client happy by creating similar quality he/she wants.

    I agree, time is money, mood board is just making too much fuss about a the creative process. Client’s taste and wishes is what counts!

    • http://ubudgetdesign.com Ralston K.C. Vaz Jr.

      LOL. You’re right mr. overrated.

      We should say “what simply makes you happy, dear client, is most important. Never mind that it won’t make any of your would-be customers happy. So long as we get a smile and a check out of you we’ve done our job.”

      Brilliant.

      [note the sarcasm?]

  • http://ignite-systems.com UK Web Hosting Dude

    This is a great approach. Thanks for sharing this. It brings me inspiration and enthusiasm. Good positive stuff.

  • http://www.designingstudio.com Mukesh

    Wow, what a dashing tips by all of them.

    http://www.designingstudio.com

  • http://www.sweetpixels.co.uk Web Design Sussex

    I’m all in for client buy in! I’m always battling with clients who want 20 phases of design refinements! Mood boards are the obvious process to help with this!

  • Manuel

    HI. Nice article. I do mood boards for every Identity or Branding job we get. But it takes time so today I was looking for a Mood Board Generator or something like that and just came upon your site. It would be nice to have a website or software application automatically layout the selected images and swatches in a collage style. Does anyone know about such a site / app?
    thanks
    Manuel

    • http://www.webdesigner-graphiste-web.fr Geeky

      Outils pour aider à réaliser un Mood Board :
      Pour le choix des couleurs > http://kuler.adobe.com
      Pour la collecte et l’organisation > http://evernote.com

  • http://blog.weborglodge.com Chris

    I can see both points. Time is money, however, I think mood boards can have a use on a client-by-client basis. If a client has only a concept, it can help them visualize their vision. Certainly it would be helpful to get a list of sites that a client likes, but for the clients that don’t know the nuts and bolts of web design, those nice sites on the flip side can be more of a design investment than they may be willing to make–heavy on Flash, lots of scripting, etc. Time is money for both parties.

  • http://www.sagie.es Cesar

    Great article Mrs Wagner, thank you very much.

    I will definitely start using mood boards from now on, I am sure it will save me time and the outcome will be better too.

    Btw I love the desing of this site :D

    Cesar
    http://www.sagie.es

  • http://lagnappe.com Tiffany

    This is a great article. I am an interior designer who has been putting together traditional cut and paste mood boards for years. More and more of my business is done online now. Can you recommend an easy entry level way to start making my first mood boards digitally so they can be e-mailed to clients?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.bj2design.com Bjarni Wark

    Mood boards are an excellent spring board to get the project headed in the right direct

  • http://www.manhattanstyle.com Manhattan Travel

    Good article. Very helpful. I’m not a designer but I would say a student and find this article very helpful. thanks! I’ve bookmarked your website and will check things out.

  • http://www.toptechreviews.net Tech Reviews

    Good post! thanks for sharing. I agree with your reasoning.

  • http://www.ideaflea.com/ Jean

    Wonderful post, great explanation.

  • http://www.boxmodeldesign.co.uk Web Designer – Dave Calvert

    Great Article. We have just started to use mood boards and they are a great way of improving the mock-up process.

  • http://twitter.com/bradbaris brad baris

    great read.

    moodboards are definitely for the preliminary stage, when definitions and context have to be established. That way, all the little nuances and discrepancies can be sorted out before it gets fleshed out, which saves time down the road.

    Is your definition and perception of giraffes the same as the definitions and perceptions from a veterinarian client? Or a big game hunter client? You might want to focus on giraffe aspect #A, but they would prefer to focus on giraffe aspect #B, but in conversation, you just both say giraffe. Sometimes it is better to just show them what you mean, instead of trying to describe it in words. The vet might want a Barney-the-dinosaur giraffe, and the hunter might want the giraffe on his wall, for example.

    If images are a thousand words, then a moodboard must be like a great conversation. It’d change feedback from having to be huge abstract redefinitions and changes, to little quips of ‘a little more of this’, ‘like this, but a different color”, etc. It makes the process a little more intuitive and tangible.

  • http://www.g13media.com G13Media

    Excellent article, I’m yet new to mood boards but looks like a very useful tool for designers. There’s a good video by from the couch they explained their version since everyone seems to have their own process and way of presenting their ideas.

  • Janice Sclafani

    Ralston- I get the gist of what you are saying.

    And I totally understand the sarcasm. My question is: what do we do with clients like these?

    Did you ever see a real estate broker honestly tell someone the max value of their home- and the homeowner absolutely refuses to hear it- or believe it?

    So the homeowners insists it go on the market, at the price THEY WANT TO SELL IT FOR, regardless of the going rate on their block, how the real estate market is doing, the condition of their home- etc etc.

    What can the broker do?

    He/She can put it up for sale, at that outrageous figure ,and hope it sells and when it does not sell, maybe the owners will wake up and drop the figure.

    Or they might drop the broker-you never know.

    It is tough to convince stubborn people that you are there to help them.

    A lot of them think all self employed people just care about the bottom line.

    And stubborn,controlling people want things done their way.

    What do we do we these kinds of customers? Especially if they are totally devoid of taste?

    Or lack business sense or vision?

    Should we drop them- or just kind of cave in and give them what they want and tell ourselves,we gave them what they wanted?

    I know one thing- if something came out looking awful? I would not want my name associated with it.

    And I can say that this professional senses of pride can apply to everyone from a hair designer to a website designer.

    I guess we could always pass on them as clients, but how many of us can afford to be choosy enough to only get clients we like and be creative with? :-(

  • http://www.aerodesigns.co.uk Web Designer Chris Pangburn

    Mood boards are definitely a great idea prior to creating a brand or website preliminary design. Getting client buy-in early on is essential, I find that involving them at every step of the way and getting lots of mini-approvals helps to ensure you don’t go down the wrong path for too long!

  • http://www.atinytribe.com Kyle Tress

    I use mood boards for all my design work. I’m the kind of designer that gets a few hours into a project, then scraps it all for a completely new direction… I’ve found that mood boards help me get that out of my system before I invest too much time into any one particular design.

    I recently co-founded an app development company with a friend and our first app for the iPad is actually a mood board creator. If you are using mood boards in your work and you want to have a look, we’d love to have some feedback!

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moodboard-mood-boards-for/id355893506?mt=8

  • rojan

    Hello everyone,
    I am a student and i am assigned to a school assignment. Therefore i ve to crete a mood board as a part of my project. Basically i am doing project for developing a website for a glass frame company and i have taken the workers of a local bank as my target audience. Hence, as i need to create a mood board but i don’t much ideat how to create it. So, any of you guys can help please??

  • http://www.gsanmiguel.ca Giselle

    This is quite informative. Thanks so much! I learned a little about mood boards in school, but to see them being used is good. It really sets the style and tone of the design.

  • http://www.vponsale.com/invitations/ wedding invitations

    It really sets the style and tone of the design.

  • joe brookes

    thanks for this information. i am currently studying a national diploma in creative media production at chichester college in west sussex, and we are looking at mood boards at the moment, and our lecturer reccomended this web site to us, and it is full of useful information thanks a lot!.

  • http://www.dodge-wiki.com/ Andrew

    This is definitely a great idea and a good way to deal with really picky clients who seem to always change their minds.

  • http://iamautocomplete.com/ Angelee

    Now I’m learning how mood boards can be creatively used for site lay-outs. The sample for the collage type looks like a pretty baby book which exactly fits its purpose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/princess.shaza.chua princessshaza

    Wow! This article helped me alot! Now I know where to start on our given Mood Board assignment! Thanks to the writer for the great content!

  • http://www.beeclip.com BeeclipMoodboards

    That is a really nice article describing the different stages of the process. Do you use or have you considered using any online tools for creating moodboards?

  • http://www.art176.com art176

    from my experience mood boards do not work with any type of client,

    but with the right type, as you wrote Walter, it helps the client to buy in
    Some clients do not have the ability to imagine the “graphic” relationship between the mood oard and the future project (very true for logotypes, but less with websites & identities)

    your article helped me to understand, that you can have different types of mood boards too, the ones showed here give a very specific direction to the project and becomes a “board of your mood”, your interpretation of the clients needs… thats something to expplore

    check some of my moodboards to see how I approach this first step of the creative process : http://www.art176.com/mood-boards/

    great article

  • http://www.seofreelance.biz seo freelance

    Thanks for the article, it’s really helpful for us who don’t use it in a standard manner. Anyway, I belive art176 is pointing out an important subject and I have to agree that this can be really great for clients with clear ideas but maybe not so good when facing someone insecure or who changes his mind really often or quickly.

    Thx for sharing ;)

  • http://www.hayvancilik1.com hayvancılık

    do not have the ability to imagine the “graphic” relationship between the mood oard and the future project (very true for logotypes, but less with websites & identitie