Published on

March 24, 2021

How mood boards help set a design direction


Better understand how mood boards set a design direction with the client, why they are so important in the beginning phases of design, and how they can help to determine if the design approach is targeting the correct audience.

What is a mood board?

Mood boards are digital collages that have an array of images, materials, fonts, and other design elements that indicate the preferred style of the client.

Importance of a mood board

Designers aren't the only ones that have preference in style. While the average consumer may not know the details of a specific style they still prefer certain design elements that they enjoy and hope to bring forward to others through their product.

Design helps in telling a story. Whether the product in question highlights a rural or urban background will help the consumer decide through the design. As an example, in physical design a wrapper or box design can either draw in or distance a consumer from the product. Things such as colors, fonts, and imagery help determine to consumers early on if the product they caught a glimpse of aligns with their lifestyle.

A mood board outline helps determine the style of the client, the vision they carry for their product, and distinguish if the style appropriately fits the audience of the product/brand.

How to create a mood board

In most cases the client will already have a premature mood board prepared. A loose array of images and examples from competing brands and concept designs of what they would like their design to look like. They will not know what they specifically want. But will know that they want something in the sense of the examples presented.

It is our job as designers to dig deeper and understand why the user prefers these specific styles-and recommend other avenues to explore if the design does not match the target audience expectations.

Creating a mood board is easy. Screenshot a variety of content and designs whether a concept or a live product. Divide the pictures into prevalent themes or styles seen within these pictures. Examples of how these pictures can be grouped is through text styles, layout similarities, color choices, and a variety of other options depending on what's important for the specific project. Once the pictures have been divided into groups create a collage of each of those groups and present them to the client. Discuss the target audience and story behind the brand and why you believe each mood board succeeded in relaying that story to consumers in their own way. Then allow the client to pick the mood board style that they prefer most.

Benefits of using mood boards

Visual design is very subjective, allowing the client to feel as if their identity still is present in the product through their input while simultaneously authorizing the designer to make the practical design decisions to best suit the consumer based on research encouraging everyone to go home happy with a successful design in hand that the client is pleased with.

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