• Design
  • 4 min

Mood boards: Why Designers Love them & How They Can Benefit Your End Designs

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  • Published
  • Apr 23, 2021
4 min

Mood boards: Why Designers Love them & How They Can Benefit Your End Designs

Mood boards aren’t just a 21st Century buzzword. They’re collages that arrange visual elements such as images, text, materials, and colors to represent the style, inspiration, and vision for a design project. Put simply, they’re a designer’s best friend, and something they turn to during each and every creation process.

If you’re a designer wanting to learn more about the positive impact mood boards can have on your designs, or are simply interested in finding out why designers love them so much, then you’re in luck. We surveyed our very own graphic design team to answer all of this and more!

How do designers use mood boards while designing?

Mood boards might be aesthetically pleasing to look at, but they serve many vital functions for a designer’s work.

Conceptualization

Firstly, they’re a critical component of a design project’s conceptualization phase, as they encourage the designer to hone the ideas and inspiration that will guide their work. Having these visual cues in the one place, and where they can be viewed in a single glance, saves a designer a lot of time and effort in locating these separate resources.

Reference

Additionally, the mood board serves as a reference for the general theme, style, colors, fonts, and overall feel of a certain project. It ensures the designer stays true to the original brief, rather than unconsciously picking up additional ideas along the way and steering off course.

Communication

Mood boards are also extremely beneficial for communicating with the client, as they provide a visual example of what they can expect their final design to look like. Words and ideas can be miscommunicated and misunderstood, but humans are experts are interpreting visuals – especially when they’re assembled together to form a single, overarching theme.

Once the client gives the project’s mood board the nod of approval, then a designer can move forward feeling confident that they’ve fully understood the brief.

What are the critical components designers like to see in a good mood board?

There are many components that contribute to a successful mood board, including:

  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Patterns
  • Icons
  • Photography
  • Stock imagery of people and places
  • Illustrations
  • Website screenshots
  • Packaging designs
  • Signage

Of course, creating a mood board isn’t as simple as placing a few seemingly related design elements next to each other. When crafting a mood board of your own, you should ensure it achieves the following:

Tells a story at a glance

What story are you trying to convey through this collection of design elements? As a rule of thumb, a viewer should be able to determine your mood board’s theme or message within just seconds of glancing at it. While each element might be different (i.e. a photo, a pattern, some typography), they should be fundamentally linked by an overarching idea.

Conveys visual hierarchy

Don’t feel the need to make each design element evenly sized and positioned. Another important principle every mood board should include is visual hierarchy, and it’s vital that you use size and position to indicate each element’s importance and relationships to one another. Doing so will also contribute to the story your mood board is conveying.

Is a deliberate curation of imagery

One of the most common mistakes people make when creating a mood board is that it becomes a collection of images they love, rather than a well-thought-out arrangement of necessary design elements. While you might love a trending pattern or color scheme, for example, unless it represents what you’re trying to achieve with your own design and brief, then it shouldn’t be in your mood board. In other words, be deliberate with your mood board choices.

Portrays the client’s ideas

While designers have some creative freedom with their projects, it’s important that you still honor the client’s brief, including their ideas and the story they wish to convey through the design. After all, your design will most likely be representing their brand in some way, so it’s important that you get this right. Be prepared to tweak your mood board until the client is happy with the overall vision and direction of the project.

How do mood boards impact a designer’s end design?

As you can imagine, mood boards play a significant role in a project’s final design. Firstly, they take the ambiguity out of the words a client uses, making it easier to communicate the intended visual ideas.

As one of our designers explains: “the word "Industrial", for instance, may look different to different people. Merely saying the word industrial is not sufficient to give the designer a good idea of what you want. Instead, when you combine the visuals into a mood board, it gives the designer an exact idea of what your designs should look like”.

This is why it’s a great idea for clients and brands to provide a designer with their own mood board when seeking design work, as it means the designer will have less revisions, since the overall idea is well communicated.

Providing a mood board can therefore also be seen as a time saver for both parties. It essentially acts as a creative style guide that puts the designer in the right direction, influencing the way the graphics are placed and presented.

Examples of what a client could visualize "Industrial" as.

What are the benefits of using a mood board while designing?

Put simply, creating a design without a mood board is like venturing into the wild without a map. This is because mood boards:

Offer reassurance

A design without boundaries leaves itself entirely to the imagination of the designer. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to client work, it can be overwhelming. After all, the sky's the limit when it comes to a designer’s imagination, therefore every project should come with more defined parameters if it wants to succeed.

Provide a quick design vision of what a client wants

Often, a client mood board is the first port of call for a designer’s work. As one of our own graphic designers explains: “It's the first thing I should have in creating a design project for my client, as I can get a quick design vision of what they are looking for.”

Demonstrates the elements needed in the design

When a client’s mood board includes elements such as typography, patterns, or illustrations, for example, then it becomes evident to the designer that these types of design elements are required. Designers can then look at the styles, colors, and themes of these elements, therefore learning not only what design elements are required, but how they should also look.


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Mood Boards
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