Gain Efficiency with Mood Boards

Joel Steidl

Mood boards enable graphic designers to visually illustrate the direction of style which they are pursuing." -

Over the past year, we've been exploring mood boards, and how they fit in our visual design process. First, how did we know we even needed them?

  • We needed to make faster progress in some areas of our process. Sometimes the information architecture part of our process, while extremely important, drags on a bit. Mood boards would allow us to more quickly show our clients something visually exciting.
  • We wanted to have a higher success rate when showing clients the first design comp. Mood boards would help us know what colors and other visual elements to use, or stay away from.

The key for us was finding the right mix of concrete examples to show a client, so we could get useful feedback to use for creating a design comp. We landed on showing four areas in our mood boards:

  • Color Palette
  • Sample Patterns & Textures
  • Sample Interface Elements
  • Typography

Moodboard Example

In a recent project for Zimmerman Marine, we presented three mood boards. We found a few bits of important information that really helped in the design process.

  • Our client really disliked woodgrains. Our team thought woodgrains would be perfect for a high-end custom yacht maker, but we were wrong.
  • Our client had some very specific color choices in mind. The blues we had picked out didn't match some of their other branding materials close enough.
  • We made good choices with typography and interface less thing to think about moving forward.

Mood boards are a low-risk way of finding out key information up-front, rather than spinning your wheels with the real design. They also force you to think through important things like typography early in the process. Check out our DrupalCon San Francisco session about our process to get a better idea of how mood boards fit in to the grand scheme.

What tools do you use to make your design process more efficient?

About the Author

With over ten years of professional experience, Joel's joint background in design, development and information architecture allows him to lead our development team with a focus on building user-centered web applications.

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