Getting in the mood to begin a creative process can be hard. You have a million ideas running through your head, and you need to narrow them down to create something concrete. Staying focused is key, especially when you are in the early stages of a web design project.
The process of researching and collecting design references is an important part of a collaborative creative process.
To get myself out of my head and into the heart of the design, I start with some form of a moodboard or style tile.
A moodboard is a collection of like minded design examples, organized to showcase a set goal or task. It creates the tone of the project, guides the team throughout the process, and supports those who are just joining in or working with a brand they are unfamiliar with.
A moodboard paints the vision you may see for the project, while bridging the gap to what goals the client wants to achieve for their audience. It's often difficult to see the wireframes or blueprints of a website without getting overwhelmed by additional details. Using a moodboard helps client and designer move forward with the design stages because they both have a visual understanding and can see the story of how this creative process came to be.
Personally, when I begin gathering inspiration for a project, I look for some of the following elements that relate to the product or design I'm creating:
Once you have gathered all your elements, your next step should be to get organized. This is especially necessary if you are presenting to your clients. This will ensure you nailed all your key points and must haves for your users. It can also support you in speeding through your workflow.
The benefit of moodboarding is that the ideas are free flowing. Don't be afraid to take a risk. At this point, it's not the final design, so if you and the client don't see eye to eye they can be altered easily. This saves you time and money on your designs.
As the client begins to have an understanding of the theme, and the concept gets approved, your moodboard now becomes the foundation to your brand guide and projects goals. This process helps avoid confusion and surprises as you move through the design process. This way, everyone is a little less moody!
There are a wide variety of tools one can use to create moodboards if you want to move away from InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop.