Why we love mood boards

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
16 Jul 2018
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At earthware, we've started to make more use of mood boards with our clients. We love the visual impact that mood boards offer, and how our clients respond to seeing them. But also we love the fact that they're relatively easy to produce, showcase our creative ability well, and that they're entirely devoted to design – not content or function. Divorcing the design from the content is important. They allow us and the client to focus on just the aesthetics. The general feel, the colour palette, the typefaces. Mood boards help us clarify our design thinking, and are an incredibly useful aid in helping our clients choose a distinct creative path.


As an agency that prides itself on user-centred design practices, mood boards allow us to control the aesthetic narrative on behalf of the users. On occasion, clients will choose a creative direction that pleases themselves, and not necessarily a direction that pleases the users of the tool they're wanting to create. At the moment we introduce a mood board to the design process, we've already ensured that we understand the user requirements. We've personified the user types, and we've worked hard to see the project from the user's perspective. It makes sense then to offer a set of aesthetic directions that, first and foremost, benefit the user. And our clients buy into that thinking.


You may already know – a mood board is a collage of ideas that together describe a clear aesthetic direction. A board may well comprise of images, photography, text, colours, pattern, etc. Elements that relate to each other in some fashion, and in combination, speak of a single creative direction. Very often, we'll produce three mood boards to convey three unique directions, all of which have been created with our user personas in mind. We'll explicitly tie those personas to each board too – to highlight which persona type or types the board resonates with most. For some clients, alongside each board we provide a characteristic synopsis, a 'tone of voice', a set of font pairings, a defined colour palette, and more. Extra elements that both emphasise and flesh-out the visual board itself.


Mood boards are becoming a very powerful device in our efforts to help our clients determine a creative direction that best suits their project, and more importantly, their project demographic. In fact, we've recently had the pleasure of working with one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies on one of their programmes to transform various analog process they currently employ, into digital alternatives. We produced a set of mood boards for them that we’ve included as examples in this post – boards that not only aligned with the users of the processes we were looking to transform, but were also very much admired by the client. A win-win.

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