Simple, Modern Website Design for MSP Crashpad 347


Simple, Modern Website Design for MSP Crashpad 327

The best websites are those that feel good to use.


In fact, the best websites are those that feel GREAT to use; that are intuitive, simple, and make your customers go "WOW! This business really has it together".

Simple, minimalistic and clean websites are my favourite to create, because they just end up feeling so good to use. And of course, Squarespace lends itself to this perfectly!

After working on a brand and website design for her acupuncture business, ReNu, Candace came back to me to help set up a new website for her commuter housing rental sideline for the Minneapolis airline staff.

Firstly, let me say how interesting it was for me to learn about this business! I'd never thought before about where airline staff stay when they're at stop offs in new cities or on a certain flight path contract. It turns out 'crashpads' are a thing, and that's what Candace offers in her home in St. Pauls.

Her 'home away from home' is female only rental accommodation with a fun and friendly - yet professional - vibe, so we made sure the site reflected this with the copywriting, colours and overall style.

> View the website live in action <

MSP Crashpad website | byRosanna

It’s been so much fun working with Rosanna again. I will be sure to keep sending referrals!
— Candace Eck

View the portfolio

or

Why is a Brand Moodboard Important? (+ How to Create One)


Why Is A Brand Moodboard Important? (+ How to make one)

What brand moodboards are actually used for and why you should have one for your business!


For all of my brand design clients, creating a moodboard is always the first step in the project. This is becoming a standard design practice, but moodboards aren't just useful for designers like me - they're also helpful for:

  • Business Owners
    I'll explain in a moment how the businesses I work with can use the moodboards we create during our project, but it's not just for my benefit!
  • Bloggers
    Having a moodboard for your blog can help you get clear about your design and content/photography theming - very useful!
  • Photographers
    Many photographers use moodboards as a guide for their own style and for theming photoshoots.
  • Artists & Creatives
    Again, moodboards can be used as a style guide for a number of projects!
  • Wedding/Event Planners
    For theming events and getting an idea of a style & atmosphere, moodboards are super useful!

What Is a 'brand moodboard'?

A moodboard is a collection of images (photos, graphics, textures) that together display a distinctive, cohesive theme. It is a visual tool for designers & business owners to put across their ideas for a brand's personality.

And what do I mean by a theme? Here are some elements that might make up the theme of a moodboard by having common threads throughout the images:

  • Colour palettes
  • Font choice
  • Textures & patterns
  • Photography style
  • Feeling/emotion

Below are some examples of my clients' moodboards:

Olivia Bossert Moodboard

Images via: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

In this moodboard for Olivia Bossert's brand, you can see a clear theme within the images chosen from the blue & aqua colour palette (with hints of black/dark grey), and flowing 'dreamy' imagery.

The Cocoa Lab Moodboard

Images via: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

For The Cocoa Lab's brand moodboard, there was a clear preference for geometric patterns and a school paper and chalkboard feel, as well as suggestions towards a 'laboratory' theme. This matched with their desire to bring 'science' to the chocolate industry.


What do you use it for?

I use moodboards in my clients' branding projects because it gives me a clear sense of what overall theme their brand's personality is going for, and I use it as a guide when creating logos and branded collateral such as business cards, to keep me on track and ensure everything is consistent.

This is a key word here - consistency.

A moodboard is essentially a guiding light for all visual elements of your brand.

If what you are creating matches with the style of the moodboard, then you are on-brand. If it doesn't, then you need to re-evaluate whether it is right for your brand.

This is useful for me as a designer AND my clients as business owners. Having a moodboard helps everyone stay consistent in everything they create. 

Business owners/bloggers/creatives/events planners etc. can also use moodboards to show third parties (ie. designers, suppliers) so that everyone is on the right track, working towards the same goal - the same moodboard.

Odette Moodboard

Images via: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

For example, Dalila from Odette would be able to send this moodboard we created to her product photographers so they can see that the photography style should be soft, light and feminine. Helpful for everyone involved!


How do you create one?

Below is how the process works for me and my design clients:

  1. Clients fill in a brand questionnaire
    My questionnaire gets the client thinking deeply about their brand & business, providing them a focus of the visual side of things. It also helps me get a deeper idea of their 'brand personality'. Read 'how to prepare for a brand or logo design'.
  2. We set up a shared Pinterest board to collect imagery
    Pinterest is a great bookmarking tool that my clients can use to 'pin' (aka. save) things from around the web and on Pinterest that they feel portrays their brand.
  3. I curate the images into an overarching 'theme' (+ add more if needed)
    Using their Pinterest board and questionnaire, I refine the images into a definite theme and add more of my own selection if it needs elaborating.
  4. I arrange the images in a moodboard collage template
    I'll take these 'themed' images and arrange them into a collage that puts across the concept as clearly as possible.
  5. I select a colour palette from the images & add to the moodboard
    From the images in the moodboard, I'll take key colours and create a palette of complimentary colours to use for the rest of the project.

But this isn't the only way to create a moodboard! In my process, we usually only work digitally, using imagery my clients find around Pinterest and the web and arranging them in a virtual moodboard; this is to keep things simple and quick for the client. 

You could also collect physical things from the world around you and take photos of brands & things that you want to add to your moodboard. Or you could create a tangible moodboard in a large sketchbook or on canvas; this would allow you to add physical textures & materials to the mix. Interior designers & artists often do this!

As for actually creating the moodboard?

While it is relatively easy to create collage templates in Photoshop or InDesign, I've found Canva is the the simplest way. Canva is a free online tool that you can use for all kinds of graphics and templates, but it makes moodboards particularl simple!

Canva

STEP ONE - CREATE A DESIGN
Go into Canva and select a design shape and size (I usually go for a 'Pinterest' template as I want to be able to share my moodboards on Pinterest once they're created). 

You'll then be given a blank slate to start your design!

Moodboard Template

STEP 2 - ADD A COLLAGE 'GRID'
Use the sidebar on the left-hand side to select 'Elements' and then go into the 'Grids' section. Then you can choose a collage layout to suit you and just click on it to add it to your design!

Canva

STEP 3 - UPLOAD YOUR MOODBOARD IMAGES
In the left sidebar click the 'uploads' button and start uploading the images you want to add to your collage. Once they've uploaded, can simply click and drag them into the box you want them to appear in (play around with the placement until you're happy!).

Canva Uploads
Canva Moodboard

STEP 4 - FINISH AND DOWNLOAD
You can always add other elements like coloured circles or blocks to show the colour palette you've chosen, and then once you're done, simply click the 'Download' button in the top bar on the right, and download it as a png!


Does your brand have its own moodboard?


Seeing a Brand Progression with The Cornish Life


The Cornish Life Brand Progression | byRosanna

As blogs and businesses grow, their brand vision naturally changes over time.


As some of you may know, as well as writing business & marketing focused posts here, I also have a personal, Cornish-lifestyle blog that I've been writing on for over 2 years now. Over those 2 years, the brand and vision for that blog have changed a lot, and thus over time I have tweaked the branding and website design to suit that.

You can see the subtle logo progression below:

TCL Brand Progression

As you can see, the changes are minimal, and (to some) may not seem important at all. But branding is much more than a logo and I have made these small tweaks in order to maintain familiarity, whilst reflecting the maturing of my overall brand.

You can see more of this development by comparing the moodboard I created for The Cornish Life 18 months ago, with the current brand moodboard:

The OLd moodboard (before)

Old Moodboard

The colour palette here is very bright and quite feminine. Based on light turquoise ocean colours and seashells, and these images reflected what I wanted my brand to encompass: An up-beat, Summery, beach-loving tribute to Cornwall.

The New Brand Moodboard

The Cornish Life Moodboard | byRosanna

Images via: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

You can see that the choice of images and colour tones in this new moodboard are totally different to the previous one; a large change that you may not have noticed just by looking at the logo tweaks, which just highlights how 'surface level' your logo is to your brand. It just scratches the surface.

Over time, what I write about on The Cornish Life has changed, my personal style and preferences have changed and matured, and my photography/editing skills have improved and developed. The old website, colour palette and brand elements (eg. my logo & media kit) weren't reflecting this.

The New Brand Concept

The Cornish Life Brand Concept | byRosanna

I find that nowadays, I'm using my blog to document my adventures around Cornwall more - rain or shine. And Cornwall isn't always shine and glistening turquoise oceans and seashells; sometimes it is, but it's rare.

I want to use The Cornish Life to show the reality of Cornwall, and how beautiful and exciting it can be even on grey, stormy days. This is why my colours have changed to a darker, moodier palette. The imagery is outdoorsy, but in a real way, not a pretty-blue-skies-everyday way.

This is also reflected in the logo font too; I did consider updating it for this new branding project, but I do still love it and feel it reflects what I want. It's rough, edgy and hand-written, but without being too 'cutesy' or feminine. 

Branded media kit update

The Cornish Life Media Kit | byRosanna

As my blog has grown, it has gained more attention from companies and PRs wanting to work with me; another reason why it's so important to have a professional, up-to-date brand and website. 

With that, my Media Kit (a PDF document with my collaboration details) needed to mature too, to reflect the quality of brands I want to work with and what they can expect from my blog. 

The Blog Re-Design

There was nothing inherently wrong with my old blog design; it was modern and could have been tweaked for my new colours & branding. But to me, it felt a bit 'samey' and unoriginal, and I wanted something that would feel fresh and exciting.

So along with other subtle changes and rebranding the site, the Home page got a full makeover, and I did the thing I thought I'd never do:

I got rid of my blog sidebar.

I'll be writing more about the pros and cons of having no sidebar on your blog, and how I've found it, in the next couple of weeks.

Visit The Cornish Life blog to see the design live in action.

The Cornish Life website | byRosanna

My website is now something I can be proud of and say with full certainty that YES it 100% reflects my new brand and vision for my blog. It's minimal and clean, with moody touches and a professional layout. 


Do you find brand progressions interesting? I'd love to hear your thoughts!