One of the most crucial parts of my process as a freelance designer has always been creating moodboards for my clients. It serves as an important visual communication tool between us and is often what I use as my final stamp of approval before designing even begins. The goal? To make sure everyone is on the same page. Now, moodboards aren’t just about putting images together in a pretty way. It’s actually a larger process that I’ve shaped over time to the needs of myself + my clients. It goes a little something like this :
First things first, I always like to open communication right away with my clients. We talk pretty generally about a project in the beginning. A brief dialogue about design aesthetics and project guidelines are covered in this part so everyone knows what’s expected of each other. Once I have a firm grasp on the project, I take time to develop a questionnaire for my clients to answer via google docs. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s basically an online version of microsoft office. I like to create a document that my client and I can share and fill out as time goes on. It’s a great way to collect important information and archive it for later. Plus, you don’t have to send files back and forth. It’s all automatically saved for everyone! You’re probably thinking to yourself … what’s up with all this google doc talk and why aren’t we talking about moodboards?? Well, I actually use all collected information from clients to develop moodboards, so it’s definitely relavent + important.
Now that I’ve covered the initial questionnaire, it’s time to get visual! While it’s great to have questions answered from the get go, there’s nothing like sharing imagery to really get things off the ground. Sure, a client can tell me they like the color yellow, but being able to see different hues, for example, is key. At this point, however, I’m still not ready to put together a moodboard. I know, I know! We’ll get there, I promise.
The next step, for me, heavily involves pinterest and serves as a place where clients can put imagery together to help further explain what they’re looking for. If pinterest isn’t your thing, you can have them do this in a variety of other ways … anything will work, really. They just need to gather inspirational images. The reason I have my clients do this is simply to unload their mind and get it all out there. There’s only so much you can explain in words, so this really is the icing on the cake.
At this point, we now have a filled out questionnaire and an entire pinterest board of inspiration, all from the point of view of the client. As a designer, it’s now my turn to sift through everything, connect the dots, and make sense of it all. If I’m being honest, I find this part of the process to be extremely therapeutic. There’s just something about figuring out the core concept + design aesthetics of a project that I really love figuring out … especially the big ”AHA” moment when everything starts coming together smoothly!
After researching everything and taking notes, I begin to not only pull images from my client’s pinterest board, but anything else that I see fit. This way, I’m fusing a client’s needs with my own design thoughts of how things should move forward. Color palettes and typography are also heavily explored, because I love to get to the point as quickly as possible so that my clients can see a clear path of how things will go.
Like I said earlier, once a moodboard is finished and sent off, I wait for the final approval before the design process even begins. If a designer and their client aren’t on the same page from the get go, problems will most definitely arise at some point! You don’t want to find yourself halfway through a project only to have someone tell you you’ve gone in a completely wrong direction. Seriously, that’s a huge blow to the face. Do anything to avoid it at all cost.
Moodboards can be extremely fun to do, yes, but oftentimes, I think people don’t realize just how important they are! It’s your time to get everything out in the open and create a solid communication between yourself and your client. I can’t stress how important that is! My moodboard process has taken some time to develop, as I haven’t always done it this way. But overtime, I’ve discovered it to be the most effective process to set the standards for a project. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit. Have fun with it!