I’ve found that usually people fall into one of two camps. Camp one: Moodboards are a necessary step in any design process. Camp two: Moodboards use up too much time and can hinder creativity.
A moodboard can mean something different depending on what kind of context you put them in, however a moodboard is generally a combination of colours, typography, images and textures. With the mass of online inspiration such as pinterest and Niice you can now create moodboards quickly without slaving over hundreds of magazines with a pair of scissors in hand.
Are moodboards worth it?
Have you ever jumped straight into a project, spending days on mock ups to then send them to the client to only to hear that the work isn’t them or that it doesn’t have the right look and feel?
These kinds of situations can be avoided by using moodboards earlier on within a project. By using moodboards and communicating with your client you are able to get a better understanding of what their expectations are from the start. By adding in this step you are able to save valuable time, as creating a loose moodboard is a lot less time consuming than creating pixel perfect mock ups.
Moodboards are accessible and a great communication tool — as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if you’re a client briefing a designer but struggling to put into words what style you are looking for, creating a simple moodboard may be your answer. Also a moodboard can help with miscommunication as one person’s idea of the word ‘Fun’ may be another person’s idea of ‘Busy’ — getting everyone on the same visual page from the start of a project is probably one of the simplest ways to ensure a project runs smoothly.
Moodboards aren’t the answer to everything
Now i’m not saying every project requires a moodboard, sometimes they aren’t appropriate. For example if you’re a client with a solid brand that has a distinctive look and feel, it might not be right to spend time sourcing visuals to reinforce a well established brand with solid enough guidelines already in place.
Moodboards can also lack purpose when designing the experience of a website. As websites are naturally interactive, and as moodboards are naturally static it can be really difficult to communicate the overall interactive experience with no moving elements.
Moodboards aren’t a replacement for original creative thinking. By no means should a project start with moodboard without solid concepts and ideas. Sourcing images without a concept leads to hours of wasted time and makes it incredibly difficult to justify to a client why you have proposed a visual idea. By taking the style over substance approach could mean that your design becomes based on trends rather than your clients needs.