As a creative agency we are always investigating new ways of doing things and because we deal regularly with "bleeding edge" technology in those creative endeavors, it is more important than ever to stay one step ahead. One of these new ideas is the use of "style tiles" in the web design process. You start with the most important step - LISTENING, thankfully that will never go out of style! Asking the client about their visual preference for the site - clean, modern, cool, etc. and then taking into account their brand, and the story they want to tell you create style tile options.
Style tiles are somewhere between a traditional mood board and a full mock up. The best analogy I came across during my research was that they are similar to the boards that interior designers use - with swatches of fabric, chips of paint, maybe a photo or two of furniture. The interior designer doesn't show up with a fully designed room without this first step.
So we decided to give style tiles a try with our next project. Honestly, I wasn't sure about it, was it just an "extra step" and would it really provide direction that would help the full mockup process more smoothly? There were a few templates out there with suggested elements to include in style tiles - we customized one for our use. Included in our style tiles were: Suggested fonts for headlines, subheads and body copy; a color palette, including photos which provided the inspiration for our choices; adjectives used to describe the personality of the site; and finally possible background/design elements. We left out specific button design options because we felt that it was too restrictive and couldn't really be determined until we got into the full mockup stage.
How did it go? So far, I would call it a success! The client was able to select between two style tile options giving us great direction to take into the full mockup stage. We're in full mockup stage now, we'll keep you posted.