When it comes to design, I tend to be an “I’ll know it when I see it” type of decision-maker. I don’t always know exactly where I’m headed until I have time to put some different concepts on paper and look at them side-by-side. That’s why having a convenient way to create and edit “mood boards” or “inspiration boards” was such a valuable tool when working on transforming our guest room to a nursery.
There are many options for creating mood boards, including design software like Photoshop and InDesign, basic software like PowerPoint and free photo sharing applications like Photobucket and Picasa. However, I recently discovered a new tool, designed especially for this purpose, Olioboard.com.
Much like fashion site Polyvore.com, Olioboard is a web-based application that allows users to collect items from around the Web and combine them into an endless variety of mood boards. Olioboard is oriented specifically toward interior design and has partnerships with several popular retailers, who contribute libraries of items for inspiration.
After creating a series of nine mood boards for our nursery design, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the site and I have to say I am absolutely a fan. The site has several advantages that make it a great tool, as well a few areas where it could improve. Here are my thoughts.
- Free and Web-Based: One of the best things about Olioboard is that it is completely free, Web-based, and no special software is required. This is a great advantage because it means you can work on your mood boards any time, on any computer, and you don’t have to fill up your computer with special software or downloaded images.
- Keeps You Organized: When you add an item to your Olioboard account, it not only saves the image, but the website also captures the URL of where you found the item, the name of the retailer and the price. This is great for quick reference when you’re working on your boards, and it gives you a handy shopping list to work from when you’ve selected your final board design.
- Easy to Share: The Olioboard site gives you quick access to the URLs and html codes needed to share your boards online. You won’t have to upload your board to a photo-hosting site, but, instead, you can post your boards directly to any website, blog or message board.
While I think Olioboard is pretty darn great as it is, here are a few features I found myself wishing for when using the site myself.
- Ability to Copy Whole Boards: For me, design tends to be somewhat of an iterative process, with me executing several variations on one theme and comparing slightly different versions side-by-side. Being able to copy and paste whole mood boards would make this easy; sadly, that is not an option on Olioboard. I would have saved a lot of time on my last design project if this had been an option, so I really hope Olioboard will continue adding it in the future.
- Ability to Save Item Settings: On a similar note, it would be great to save settings such as cropping, scaling and transparency options, so that those settings apply every time you use the same item.
- A More Robust Community: Olioboard.com is a fairly new site, having launched in summer of this year, so I suspect its community features are just starting to get going. When I started using the site about two months ago, I noted several areas that would facilitate greater dialogue and collaboration: 1) the ability to search other users, boards and items, 2) individual groups or boards for certain interest areas, and 3) the energy and excitement that comes with more users. Having just returned to the site, I’ve noticed that Olioboard seems to be actively updating its community features to make these ideas a reality. The search feature is up and running. A groups feature is listed as “coming soon.” And traffic seems to be picking up on the community pages. I’m excited to see the progress they’re making and look forward to using some of these new features to gather inspiration and connect with other users.
Readers, have you used Olioboard.com? If so, what did you think? What did you like about the tool? How could they make the site better?