Before starting any project, I create a “Style Board” that shows the direction of the project. It is a visual tool that serves to show whether or not I am on the client’s page.
I tweak it until I get it right.
It is also used as a touchstone for the client and myself that directs and serves as a reminder of the feel for the project as we advance through the design process. It keeps us on track and reminds us of the original vision.