What to write on a design mood board



If you aren’t familiar with them, a mood board is a visual tool that compiles many images into one spot. They are used to align visual themes and elements for a design approach. To create a “mood” they tend to contain several images.


The imagery is compelling, but it is the words that do the heavy lifting.


In addition to imagery, I believe they should also contain descriptive words. Whether your aware of it or not, a mood board is a selling tool. Even if nobody but you ever sees it, you are still selling a vision back to yourself.

And this is the important part - pictures don’t sell people, WORDS do. With that in mind, here are the things I write on a mood board to help guide the conversation with my clients:

1. Theme Name

Your Mood board needs a name. Something better than “Option 1”. Try to make it encapsulate a feeling. 

2. Tone

Think aboutand write the tone of how you want this collection of visuals to be interpreted. For example, the "Analogue" theme ( image above) is personal, optimistic, and forward thinking. It has a sense of authority, but it does not consider itself to be the end-all-be-all of authority. 

3. Geometry

Describe the style of shapes being targeted for design direction, refer to Psychology of Shapes download to get you going. 

4. Icon Style

Describe icons style/function as it pertains to creative direction 

5. Voice

Try to describe the voice of the experience as if it was a person. This can be tricky sometimes. I find it is helpful to think about the end user of the design experience and how they might verbalize something in a casual conversation. 

6. Messaging Focus

Imagine a tag line for the experience that might encapsulate the imagery or focus of this mood board. 

7. Color use

Describe on a high level how color may be used in the product. Tie it back to the Psychology of Color download to get you going (contained within Psychology of Shapes).

Those are all the main descriptors I use on my mood boards (there is only so much room!). Don’t forget to grab the mood board template PDF and AI file below :)