How to Communicate Ideas Faster with Moodboards
(and develope a visual style)

What is a Moodboard?

A moodboard is an arrangement of text, images, and/or video designed to convey a concept or visual style. Sometimes referred to as an “inspiration board,” a moodboard typically resembles a scattered collage of ideas that, once visualized, can be used as a foundation for developing future ideas within teams, and with clients and stakeholders.

Moodboards are often the first design deliverables, used to help clarify our initial mental model and kickstart the thought process. With a little collaboration and refinement, moodboards can be used as a visual reference throughout the entire design workflow.

If we were designing a brand identity, we could use a moodboard to display colors, images, words, fonts, and visual styles that might represent the brand’s personality.

If we were designing (for example) a brochure, a magazine, a business card, or some other kind of graphic design, we could use a moodboard to sample colors, fonts, images, and interesting examples of similar designs, for ideation and visual inspiration.

If we were designing an app or website, we could use a moodboard to round up rough sketches, snippets of UX copy, and examples of similar concepts by other companies.

Moodboards as Part of the Design Process

Moodboards are central to the design process.

Moodboards aren’t created, utilized, then discarded like sketches are, we can refer to moodboards time and time again for inspiration. They have lifetime value, and we can tap moodboards as many times as needed to help bring new ideas and concepts to life.

That being said, how much inspiration is too much inspiration?

Letting creativity run wild can be disastrous. First of all, time is money, and businesses expect designers to harvest results within the agreed budget. Secondly, there are a number of factors that can invalidate ideas simply because they don’t correlate with business objectives or user needs, despite seeming like a terrific idea on the surface.

Moodboards: Quality, not Quantity

So that we don’t spend days/weeks toying with an excess amount of ideas without yielding any real results, we can narrow the scope to include only elements that make sense for the task at hand. A moodboard should convey a clear style—it’s not the same thing as a whiteboard where various conflicting ideas might appear on the same canvas. If needed, we can additional moodboards to express different concepts.

In order to narrow scope, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Business objectives: what is the business trying to achieve?
  • Product framing: what are we actually selling?
  • Value proposition: why do customers need it?
  • Personas: who are the customers, how do they act, feel, think?
  • Branding strategy: what type of business will they trust and engage with?

Once we know the answers to these questions we can begin to conceptualize our initial ideas with these newly founded user needs and business objectives in mind.

How Are Moodboards Utilized?

What actually happens to moodboards once they’ve been created?

Fueled by images, colors, fonts, words, shapes, sketches, we can begin to iterate over a number of more concrete ideas in quick succession having already compiled a bunch of visual cues deemed acceptable for the task at hand. With this inspiration, we can:

  • Obliterate creative block at crucial moments
  • Develop a more concrete visual identity and/or design language
  • Directly build upon a visual element from the moodboard
  • Kickstart collaboration and collect feedback earlier
  • Help stakeholders be on the same side quicker by validating ideas
  • Run a design sprint using moodboards to house existing implementations
  • Vote on early-stage solutions using moodboards as elaborate storyboards

How to Make a Moodboard with Ledavio

Ledavio is a moodboard maker for creating moodboards online, easily and quickly.

After creating a free Ledavio account, dive straight in by clicking the “Add Customer” tile. Give the customer a name, then repeat this step, this time clicking “Add Project.”

Finally, “Add Moodboard.”

In only a few short seconds, we can start curating assets for our moodboard.

Words and Fonts

Nothing communicates more explicitly that words. Clients will often, almost always, have a few words to say about their brand. Who are they? Friendly? Cheeky? Professional? Creative? Start a moodboard with a few simple words to kick things off.

Click the “T” icon to create a single line of text (e.g. a headline), or select the multiline text tool (directly underneath “T”) for copy text, choosing a font size, color, style, and family. Choose a font family that accurately depicts the chosen words, for instance “Creative” would work nicely with a handwritten font, and “Friendly” would suit a sans-serif font. If designing a brand identity, this could be the first step towards designing a logo.

Images

Images can be used as a backdrop for our words, as opposed to randomly displaying them alongside. Visual elements should work in harmony, so experimenting with them as such allows us to establish a mood that works in a more realistic composition.

Click the image icon to begin searching for images from Google, Flickr, Pexels, Pixabay, and more. If needed, we can filter the image results by color. Click an image to insert it into the moodboard, then drag elements to rearrange them in a way that makes sense.

When choosing images, think about color, tone, mood, and emotion; what is the image conveying, and how does it make the user feel and think? When sourcing design inspiration from Google, add text explaining what we like/don’t like about the example.

Different Mood, Different Moodboard

Remember to explore new concepts on a new moodboard. Each “mood” needs a different board, otherwise, we’ll wind up with a bunch of unorganized ideas and no clear direction. To create another moodboard, revert back to the project dashboard and click the “Add Moodboard” tile to being experimenting with a new stylistic direction.

Try to think in abstract terms—experiment with shapes and colors, but don’t try to create an actual design, as this will lead us to time-consuming perfectionism.

Getting Quick Feedback

When a moodboard is ready to be shared with clients and stakeholders, click the share button and send them the share link. This is a terrific opportunity to collect feedback.

If choosing to export as a PDF instead, make sure to navigate to “Moodboard settings” and set the background color and moodboard size (DIN A0-A5 supported for now).

Conclusion

Moodboards allow teams to brew ideas faster by having a reference for their visual style and basic concept. This reference helps teams stay on track, inhibiting them from falling into never-ending idea cycles and ensuring that they cultivate ideas that fit within the refined scope, equipping all ideas with the same, consistent foundation.

To start bringing moodboards into your design workflow, try Ledavio now.