A mood board is a presentation made of photographs, illustrations, patterns, slogans, fonts, and color schemes. It is created for a future design project. It shows how the design will feel and look like: be serious or fun, elite or democratic, what images will be taken as a basis or inspiration, how colors will be combined, and what the typography will be.
What does a mood board look like?
Professional UX/UI design agencies like Clay.Global in San Francisco use mood boards in their creative process.
A mood board is a collage-like presentation. Before making it, you would have to cut out photos from magazines and glue them aboard. Now everything is more straightforward: they take pictures from the Internet and combine them in any graphic editor.
Why use mood boards?
They make it a lot easier for designers to work on a project. It takes a lot of time to create several different interface layouts or corporate identity options. Therefore, it is better to decide on the concept in advance. The advantage of mood boards is that they can be assembled relatively quickly.
Explaining something orally and deciding what to take as a basis for a future project is sometimes much more complex than doing it with a few pictures and patterns on a mood board. This quick presentation is critical when communicating between a designer and a client and makes it easier for them to understand each other.
However, a mood board is not just a collage, which contains beautiful pictures. First of all, these are visual elements suitable for a specific project. Therefore, collecting hundreds in advance and distributing them to customers is a bad idea. The mood board should emphasize the main ideas that will be reflected in the design.
Another essential characteristic of a mood board is its integrity. Everything should be subordinated to one mood: when you look at the pictures, it is immediately clear what kind of design it is, what audience, and what message it carries.
Even if a photograph of thunderclouds looks nice next to the image of a sunny sky, you cannot combine elements that are radically different in meaning and mood; they should not contradict each other. This is disorienting: neither the client nor the mood board author ultimately understands whether the design will be sunny or gloomy.
For the same reason, mood boards try to avoid overly complex images that may be incomprehensible to the client. For example, it makes no sense to insert a portrait of Cleopatra into a mood board – historical figures evoke complex associations, they will be different for different people. These images do not help understand the project.
All in all, a mood board’s task is not to tell about the design but to show it. But a short slogan can be helpful: for a better understanding of an idea or to showcase typography.
What type of projects can use mood boards
For everyone who works with visuals, it is a universal tool. Themed collages are made by web designers, advertising and corporate identity designers, interior designers, clothing designers, and sometimes even artists and photographers. Well-made mood boards allow specialists from different fields to understand each other: this applies to communication with clients and within the team.
You can search for mood board inspiration on Pinterest, Dribbble, or Behance. These are handy websites to get started on a project: there are tons of pictures on any topic. You can collect all the necessary images into one collage in Photoshop or another editor.
The created mood board directs the work on a future design project. The set framework simplifies the work and makes the result predictable for the client.