17Aug 2023

What is a Mood Board and Why is it Important in Web Designing?

A mood board is an essential design tool that allows web designers to establish the visual direction of a website before any actual design work begins. Made up of images, textures, colors, and fonts, a mood board creates a composition that clearly communicates the look, feel, and emotions that the final website should evoke. 

Though commonly utilized in many creative fields, mood boards are especially critical for web designers to align aesthetic goals with stakeholders and to maintain visual consistency throughout the design process. 

By providing inspiration and clarity, mood boards give designers the ability to develop websites that connect on a deeper level with users. 

This article will explore what mood boards are, why they are invaluable tools for web designers, and how to craft effective mood boards that will guide all stages of development to create engaging visually appealing websites.

What is a Mood Board?

Moodboard Template
Moodboard Template – Image Source: Freepik

A mood board is a visual presentation tool used by designers and creative professionals to establish the look, feel, emotions, and aesthetics of a project before actual design work begins. 


The practice of using mood boards dates back decades, with artists, graphic designers, and architects creating these collages and compositions to visualize creative concepts. 

The term “mood board” originated in the 1970s among interior designers as a way to convey interior decorative styles to clients through a curated arrangement of images, materials, and color swatches. 

Since then, the use of mood boards has expanded across all creative fields, including web design, fashion, film, branding, UX design, and more. 

With the proliferation of digital design tools, mood boards have evolved from physical collages to being easily created and shared digitally using design software, online presentation tools, and social media platforms.


A mood board is important in web designing. It serves multiple purposes in the design process:

  • It establishes the overall creative direction, visual style, look-and-feel, and emotions/tone that the final design should evoke. This gives the entire team clarity on the aesthetic goals before design work starts.
  • Brings abstract ideas and creative vision to life in a visual format that is easy to understand. Seeing the images and compositions is more powerful than just describing the aesthetics. 
  • Inspires creativity and innovation by exposing designers to visual inspirations relevant to the project. This encourages original ideas aligned with the desired style.
  • Facilitates clear communication of creative concepts between the client and design team. This alignment saves time by reducing miscommunications and revisions later. 
  • According to a 2016 study by the Journal of Business Research, it was found that mood boards were effective in a.) setting the scene, b.) directing activities & aligning sub-products, and c.) establishing a point of reference.


What To Include on Your Mood Board
What To Include on Your Mood Board – Image Source: TinkerLab

A mood board commonly includes:

  • Relevant images reflective of visual themes, metaphors, eras, or locations
  • Dominant and accent colors schemes drawn from color psychology and meaning
  • Textures and background patterns that convey look and feel  
  • Typography like display fonts and handwritten text expressing the style
  • Graphics like illustrations, icons, and shapes that visually communicate emotions and ideas
  • Photographs of locations, objects, textures, and people that set the aesthetics
  • Text snippets that inspire or summarize the intended style or message

By thoughtfully arranging these visual elements, mood boards bring the emerging design concept to life and catalyze the creative process.


Mood boards provide immense value by;

  • Enabling designers and stakeholders to actually visualize creative ideas instead of just imagining them. 
  • Providing a shared reference to give the team clarity and alignment on the aesthetics and style goals.
  • Inspiring creativity by exposing designers to new ideas and directions aligned with the project.
  • Saving significant time and rework later by getting alignment on the visual direction early. 
  • Making abstract creative concepts tangible through impactful and evocative visual compositions.

Mood boards have become indispensable visualization tools across all creative fields over the past decades. Their ability to establish visual clarity, inspire original ideas, and focus design efforts makes them integral to the design process.

Why Create a Mood Board for Web Design?

Mood boards have become a crucial step in the web design process. Creating a mood board provides immense value to web design projects by;

  1. Visualizing the Look and Feel

A mood board allows web designers to visually establish the website’s aesthetics, style, and emotional tone before any actual design work begins. This gives the team clarity on goals and prevents wasted effort from starting the design in the wrong visual direction. 

The collage of colors, fonts, styles of imagery, and other elements in a mood board communicates the look and feel more effectively than just describing it in words. Stakeholders can instantly understand the visual direction rather than try to imagine it.

For instance, the mood board example shown below clearly establishes a fun, friendly, casual aesthetic for an app design. 

App Design Inspiration Board
App Design Inspiration Board – Image Source: lordchiyan0306600.wordpress.com

The predominant pastel colors create a soft, approachable feel, while the hand-drawn style illustrations and fonts lend a playful, informal vibe. This gives the design team a strong creative direction to work within, even before wireframes or prototypes are created. 

The client is also able to understand the desired emotional tone and visual style immediately.

Mood boards empower designers to align with stakeholders early, preventing wasted efforts from mismatched expectations. By visually communicating the look and feel, mood boards enable the design process to start off on the right foot. 

The example here shows how effective a mood board can be in conveying the aesthetic goals of an app or website. This clarity and alignment allow the work to progress smoothly and efficiently.

  1. Defining the Visual Style

The color palette, typography, graphic styles, and photographic/illustration choices in a mood board define the visual language of the website. This guides designers in creating UI elements, pages, and graphics that align with the pre-established style.

As can be seen in the mood board example from the previous section, the specific pastel color palette, hand-drawn illustration style, and casual fonts establish a defined visual direction. 

This gives the designers a clear creative framework to work within as they begin actually creating UI screens and graphics for the app; following the visual style defined in the mood board results in screens, icons, and other elements that feel cohesive and aligned with the intended friendly, playful aesthetic.

Having this clear visual language as a starting point prevents inconsistencies and wasted efforts that could result from designers interpreting the vague goal of a “fun” or “friendly” app differently. 

The concrete visual examples in the mood board enable the team to understand the specific creative direction immediately. This upfront alignment of the visual style is a key benefit of mood boards in web and app design.

  1. Communicating to Stakeholders
 Before & After Your Clients See the Mood Board
Before & After Your Clients See the Mood Board – Image Source: Codemonk

Mood boards provide an easy way for designers to get stakeholder and client buy-in on the creative direction before the design starts. 

Rather than multiple revisions, aligning on the mood board upfront saves significant time and rework later.

Presenting the mood board to users also provides validation that the intended visuals resonate with the target audience. This insight refines the aesthetics even further.  

  1. Reinforcing Brand Identity

Well-constructed mood boards ensure the visual identity reinforces the overall brand identity through aligned aesthetics. The colors, typography, and imagery should strengthen brand recognition and alignment. 

When creating a mood board, it’s important to carefully select elements that reflect the brand’s personality, values, and messaging. The visuals should evoke the desired emotions and style that the brand wants to convey to its audience. 

Every aesthetic choice on the mood board, from color palette to fonts, should intentionally align with and enhance the brand identity. A cohesive mood board allows viewers to recognize and connect with the brand’s essence instantly.

  1. Guiding the Process

The mood board acts as the north star guiding all design decisions – from information architecture to interactions to choice of illustrations. It ensures choices are consistent with the intended creative direction.  

Reviewing at each stage if the work-in-progress aligns with the mood board reduces costly revisions.

  1. Connecting with Users

Mood boards crafted based on the target users’ preferences ensure the site appeals visually to the audience. The fonts, colors, and photography styles chosen should resonate with the users’ interests and expectations.

  1. Determining Design Elements

The typography, color schemes, and graphic styles established in the mood board directly inform decisions on;

  • Optimal page layouts and grid structures 
  • Navigation mechanisms and information architecture
  • Presentation of content like text, data, infographics, and video
  • Interactions and motions for an engaging experience

The mood board is the critical first step in the web design process that enables all subsequent design decisions on layouts, navigation, interactions, and more. 

It is an invaluable tool for creating websites that visually connect and immerse target users based on clearly defined aesthetic goals.

How to Create an Effective Mood Board

Creating an impactful mood board takes thoughtfulness and creativity. Follow these key steps:

  1. Conduct Research
 Conduct Research Illustration
Conduct Research Illustration – Image Source: Freepik

Thorough research is vital for creating a mood board that truly fits the project goals. Take time to understand:

  • The objectives of the website and key messages to convey visually
  • The target users and their preferences, interests, and demographics
  • Competitor analyses to see what aesthetics work well in the industry
  • The client’s brand identity, including logo, colors, fonts, voice, style
  • Current design trends and styles that could inspire

Solid research provides strategic insights to craft aesthetics that align with the website’s goals and users.

  1. Collect Visual Inspiration
Collect Visual Inspiration Illustration
Collect Visual Inspiration Illustration – Image Source: Freepik

Spend time gathering a wide selection of visual inspirations relevant to the project, such as:

  • Photographs: conveying desired emotions, styles, eras, locations
  • Illustrations: hand-drawn or digital art in relevant styles  
  • Textures, patterns, backgrounds: wood, fabric, nature patterns
  • Color palettes: curated colors conveying the style
  • Typography: display fonts, handwritten text 
  • Graphics: icons, shapes, motifs, ornaments

Curating visuals from various sources like free image databases, fonts sites, and designer portfolios allows fresh inspiration for the mood board.  

  1. Choose the Color Palette
Collection of Different Color Tones From Different Pictures
Collection of Different Color Tones From Different Pictures – Image Source: Freepik

Select dominant, secondary, and accent colors for the project based on color psychology, meanings, and the emotions you want to evoke.

Cohesive color schemes are powerful in mood boards. Contrasting triads and complementary analogic palettes work well.

  1. Pick Typography
Moodboard #1 | Mood board, Serif fonts, Sans serif fonts
Moodboard #1 | Mood board, Serif fonts, Sans serif fonts – Image Source: Pinterest

Choose display fonts and typographic styles that communicate the aesthetic. Elegant serif fonts convey traditional sophistication. Sans serifs feel clean and modern. Handwritten and script fonts add unique characters. 

Ensure typography choices align with brand identity.

  1. Include Graphics and Textures
Moodboard Composition Illustration
Moodboard Composition Illustration – Image Source: Freepik

Use photographs, illustrations, icons, shapes, patterns, and textures to communicate specific visual themes. For example, wood textures and nature graphics for an earthy feel. Geometric shapes and lines for modern sleekness.

  1. Balance Image Styles

Aim for a thoughtful balance of photographic and illustrative styles to create impact. Photos bring realism. Illustrations add artistry and character. Blend both for aesthetics with mass appeal. 

  1. Arrange the Elements

Arrange images, graphics, text, and colors in an aesthetically pleasing composition. Overlay text on graphics or create collage-like arrangements for interest. 

Play with scale, overlap, angles, and positions to create movement and visual harmony. White space prevents clutter.

  1. Avoid Clutter

While extensive mood boards seem thorough, too many elements risk diluting the impact. Be selective and only include what communicates the aesthetic goals.

Have a dominant visual theme emerge through strategic repetition of colors, fonts, and graphic styles.

  1. Present and Refine

Present the mood board digitally or print it out. Review if it clearly establishes the desired style and achieves visual impact. Seek the client’s and users’ feedback to refine further.

Investing thought and creativity in carefully curating and arranging the elements based on research and strategy is key to developing mood boards that effectively guide the website’s visual direction.

Summer at SEM Mood Board
Summer at SEM Mood Board – Image Source: Dribbble

For instance, the creators of This Summer at SEM Mood Board presented it digitally to gather feedback from stakeholders. They iterated based on feedback to refine the color palette, sans serif fonts, and styling in line with the seasonal website design goals.

In another example, the designers shared multiple versions of the Papafu Mood Board to hone in on the visuals, emotions, and brand essence the client wanted to convey. 

Mood Board v.2.0: Papafu Mood Board
Mood Board v.2.0: Papafu Mood Board – Image Source: Dribbble

Their thoughtful refinements ensured the final mood board accurately encapsulated the look and feel of the portfolio website.

Benefits of Using Mood Boards for Web Design

Using mood boards provides immense value throughout the web design process by;

  1. Enhancing Creativity: Mood boards expose designers to extensive visual inspiration early on through curated images, graphics, fonts, and color palettes. 

This influx of ideas stimulates creativity and enables designers to develop original aesthetics, layouts, and content presentation tailored to the project.

  1. Providing Design Direction: The mood board gives clear visual direction from the start, ensuring the team stays aligned with the aesthetic goals. Rather than waste effort on disparate designs, the established style focuses efforts. 

This clarity enables teams to achieve the final visual direction faster.

  1. Improving Client Communications: Mood boards provide an easy way for designers and clients to get on the same page about abstract creative concepts through concrete visuals. This alignment early on prevents multiple revisions later. 
  2. Saving Time: Getting stakeholder signoff on the mood board upfront eliminates wasted design time working in the wrong creative direction. It also speeds up approval cycles with clients already aligned on the visuals. 
  3. Promoting Consistency: The defined color palette, typography, and graphic styles in the mood board ensure all UI elements and webpages have a consistent look. This cohesive aesthetic makes the site feel polished.
  4. Testing Visual Appeal: Mood boards provide an early visual prototype to test if the imagery, colors, and styles resonate with target users. The insights gained can refine the aesthetics even further.
  5. Guiding Design Decisions: The mood board guides decisions on layouts, navigation, interactions, animations, and content presentation. It ensures all choices reinforce the visual direction.
  6. Generating Interest: The evocative visuals and compositional creativity of mood boards get team members excited and invested in the vision early on. This leads to greater enthusiasm for executing the project.
  7. Providing Future Reference: The mood board acts as an aesthetic compass throughout the project. Frequently revisiting it keeps the work style aligned. It also gives historical context when new members join the team.

In summary, mood boards are important in web designing as they enable impactful, style-aligned websites by stimulating creativity, communicating visual goals, testing appeal, guiding decisions, and aligning teams through the design process. 

They are invaluable for web design success.


Mood boards have become indispensable visualization tools for web designers to establish the overall creative direction and emotional tone for a website before design even begins. 

These thoughtfully curated compositions of colors, fonts, imagery, and textures provide immense value by enabling alignment on aesthetic goals, guiding design decisions, sparking creativity, and improving client communications. 

By visually defining the look and feel upfront, mood boards prevent wasted efforts from mismatched expectations and inconsistencies. Their ability to test visual appeal and resonate with target users is invaluable. 

Mood boards have proven benefits across the web design process, from stimulating innovative ideas to maintaining visual cohesion. Their unique power to bring abstract concepts to life through evocative visuals makes starting any web design project without a mood board unthinkable. 

Web designers now have a vital tool to gain clarity, consistency, and stakeholder consensus to build websites that truly connect with users through aesthetics tailored exactly to what they desire.

Acodez is a leading web design company in India offering all kinds of web design and website redesign at affordable prices. We are also an SEO and digital marketing agency offering inbound marketing solutions to take your business to the next level. For further information, please contact us today.

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Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan

Rithesh Raghavan, Co-Founder, and Director at Acodez IT Solutions, who has a rich experience of 16+ years in IT & Digital Marketing. Between his busy schedule, whenever he finds the time he writes up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development. All thanks to his master brain behind the gleaming success of Acodez.

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