Known as inspiration board, concept board or aesthetic summary, mood boards are a visual essence of whatever their creator is working on. And the possibilities are endless, with mood boards being used everywhere – from web design to wedding planning. But what makes them so beloved and why you, too, are going to love them?
What a Mood Board Is
You’ve probably heard about them. You’ve probably seen them as well. A buzzword that escaped the world of design, mood boards are taking their place in the mainstream by storm.
But what are they? To put it simply: a collection of images, videos, colour palettes, fonts, words and catchphrases, and/or existing design solutions. They can be prepared in digital as well as in analogue, depending on the designer’s preferences.
Mood boards give a structure to all the collected information, making the design process much easier. After all, imagine gathering hundreds or thousands of inspo images and transferring them straight into a mock-up. That’s a no from us.
So how exactly are mood boards used? Our designers compare their effect to a blur of an end result. “It’s like an averaged understanding of a desired aesthetic”, they say, “an initial draft of what it includes”.
Mood boards can serve as a base not only for the digital product itself but also for the brand book, logo design, communication strategy (such as sales presentations) and future ads. A rather handy tool for everyone included in the creation and future maintenance, don’t you think?
And, most importantly, mood boards are fast by design, convenient to make, and they’re easy and cheap. Especially so when compared to potential mistakes and resulting adjustments.
Want To Make Your Life Easier? Use Mood Boards
If mood boards were a superhero, their power would be making communication perfectly effective. And real life is pretty much the same – they serve as a bridge between a strategist and a designer, and then between the company and the client, too.
Implementing mood boards into the design process helps the client visualise their future product at a very early stage. It gives them a sense of control over the end result.
Not all clients are adept at design – most of them don’t know the complicated terminology, not to mention the rules and principles of UX/UI. So when a client tells the designer to “make their website lightweight and modern”, they might want to have a lot of negative space. And with a mood board, they can see different options and pinpoint what they do or don’t like, while having easily available alternatives.
The fundamental goal of mood boards is to simplify the decision-making process as much as possible. They allow the client to choose from two or three complete visual strategies and cut the risk of overwhelming them. At the same time, mood boards are only provisional suggestions. The designer can introduce all the necessary changes (like swapping a colour for a different one) or – if need be – take a completely new approach.
“But Aren’t Mood Boards a Waste of Time?”
And we say that with certainty, because mood boards play an important role in our own design processes. They blend seamlessly into lean and agile approaches. They allow delegating tasks and completing multiple stages of the project at the same time. Even if a client doesn’t accept the initial design ideas straight away, other phases progress on their own.
Mood boards also make it much easier to gather feedback from anyone, at any given time. They enable the design and marketing teams to take over the project smoothly, and leave suggestions without the need for extensive introductions.
Imagine a scenario where mood boards are not created at the beginning of a product design. You’re the client, waiting for days or weeks to see the designer’s take on your mobile app. And when the time finally comes… The complex mock-up you see is not at all what you had in mind. Everyone’s frustrated, a lot of time was wasted, the bills are not going to pay themselves, and the whole design needs to be redone.
Well, now imagine that in the first steps of creating your desired app, the designer presented you with a mood board or two (or maybe three). You pointed out the things you didn’t like, and accepted those you loved. You knew exactly what to expect and had a say in the end result. The designer knew precisely what to do to make you happy. There were no unpleasant surprises, no miscommunications, no let-downs.
When you think about mood boards this way, and learn how to make them, it’s only a matter of time before you can’t imagine not doing them.
How We Use Mood Boards In Our Design Processes
After client interviews and specifying the deliverables, we jump straight into action. Benchmarking, user research, product strategy creation, and then – mood boards. We like to think about them as a set of crayons designed for the unique colouring book that a web or mobile app mock-up is. The designer can focus on the UX/UI part of the product, and easily implement the established visual strategy later on.
When creating a digital product or a brand identity, we always make sure to use an empathic approach and design for emotions of the future user. One of our favourite examples is our Kosmonaut Casino brand identity design. By introducing mood boards, we quickly found the visual strategy our client fell in love with.
Creating a visually engaging, well-functioning digital product is no easy feat. Add client’s needs and requirements into the mix, and it gets even more complicated. But implementing mood boards into your design process can certainly make your life much easier.
With unlimited sources of inspiration on the internet, getting some creative help is always a good idea. So the question with mood boards is not “to create or not to create”. It rather is, “may I start already”?
This article was originally published on Herodot.