A mood board is a tool for gathering creative inspiration, color palettes, feature requests and other ideas into a single document that can then be used to guide the initial rough mock up process. Creating a mood board is one of the first steps I take in the design process after meeting with the client and conducting the initial assessment interview.
When I make a new mood board, I don’t design any specific elements, rather, I collect a range of design samples from some, or all, of the following sources:
- Websites – I use website design galleries for getting inspiration from other great website designers. When doing this I’m looking for samples that capture the general feel, layout, colors and even specific elements that I think fit this project. In many ways the sites I select will be very different from the final project, these are merely a source of ideas and inspiration.
- Colors – I use my experience, color selection tools and existing designs and logos to create a possible palette for the new design. The exact colors rarely remain intact throughout the design process, but I will use these as a starting point and adjust as the project begins to unfold.
- Interfaces – If I’m designing a user interface, or a website that has many forms, controls or wizards, I will often include some sample forms, buttons and input fields to illustrate guidelines and graphic elements that I will keep in mind.
- Existing Material – Any existing marketing or branding material should be considered for inclusion. The company logo, if it exists, is important as well as past website pages or elements from key marketing campaigns.
- Other Design – When possible, I prefer to include at least one element that is really not related to website design at all. This could be from fashion, graphic arts, product design or marketing materials. Again, this isn’t likely to be featured in the final product, but it should capture the feel or essence evoked by the project as a whole.
A well done mood board effectively communicates the heart and soul of a design project. If the developer isn’t getting it from the clients perspective, the board should serve to quickly identify any miscommunication or misunderstanding before substantial time is wasted going down the wrong path.