Landing a new project is exhilarating and exciting, unleashing a rush of ideas for how you want the results to look and what you need to do to get there. In fact, such a flow of creativity can easily lead to an overwhelming jumble of concepts if you are new to the trade or don’t have a strict design methodology. One of the most successful ways to keep inspiration from turning into a fleeting thought or being blocked completely is to use visual brainstorming to capture ideas and concepts as they come to you. What is Visual Brainstorming? To quote UsabilityFirst, visual brainstorming is “the process of generating a variety of graphical alternatives to a visual design problem, such as generating thumbnail sketches for a screen layout or various alternatives of an icon to represent an abstract concept.” Often confused with brain mapping, successful visual brainstorming avoids words or explanations. Benefits of Visual Brainstorming in Design Visual brainstorming is used to formulate a creative concept, and collaborate or communicate an idea or creative concept where words would fail. It is a perfect solution when working with new subject matter, or with a client that doesn’t understand your proposals and emails. Rather than just focusing on the whole picture right away, visual brainstorming allows you to collect ideas about detailed aspects of a design, such as the textures, colors, styles and shapes and put them together in a way that allows direct comparison and interaction. Using this form of anti-conventional thinking, it becomes easier to solve problems and innovate, leaving multiple pathways open for change and reform later on. Use visual brainstorming to: Tap into your subconscious inspiration – individual elements that inspire you are easily put together to form a tangible result. Present an idea or concept to your client that is easily translated without complicated language. Establish the creative direction for your project, which in turn enables you to build the actual design without fear of excessive revision or failure. Methods of Visual Brainstorming Visual brainstorming can involve putting together LEGOs, scrapbooking, or sketching. When it comes to design, there are a handful of excellent online tools that help you put together inspirations to create a mood board that can be turned into a solid concept with ease and improve your overall workflow. Each tool provides varying degrees of creative control and solves a specific creative problem. Whichever you choose, adding even one or all to your creative routine in favor of rigid prototyping or disorganized chaos will get your project on course for success. Moodshare Moodshare is a new collaborative tool designed for designers and teams for quick visual brainstorming using drag n’drop and real-time collaboration. Search Twitter, Google, Bing, Flickr, Picasa, BigStock, ShutterStock, Youtube, Vimeo and ColorLovers simultaneously to combine images, video, color palettes and links. Complete boards can be shared via social networks or links, or saved locally. Moodhsare is currently in beta,which means it is completely free. Learn More   Conceptboard Conceptboard is a complete project management platform built for brainstorming, mind-mapping, collecting ideas and many other creative techniques. You can work alone or with team members or clients and enhance your collections with whiteboard markup. Unlike the previous two applications, Conceptboard allows you to combine images, documents and references for a complete visual overview. Plans are low-cost, with the free plan offering 25 boards – more than enough to get started.   Sampleboard Sampleboard offers complete freedom to search its extensive online library or grab inspiration from Flickr, Picasa or your own uploads to create online collages and mood boards that can be organized into project-based folders. Boards may be shared on Twitter or Facebook or exported to Word, Powerpoint, Slideshare, PDF or hi-res image formats. While a favorite of interior and fashion designers, Sampleboard can be adapted to any creative project. Learn More   SpringPad SpringPad is a complete task management and note-taking application with full Google calendar and social network integraton that lets you create an endless number of projects or folders, each with their own Board. Boards can be used to organize ideas and information by adding any of SpringPad’s elements, including labels, notes, lists, places, images, contacts and bookmarks. The result is a completely visual means of organizing a project and building creative direction. SpringPad comes with desktop synchronization, Chrome and Firefox addons and a slick mobile app. Learn More   Pinterest If all you really need is a place to collect ideas and inspiration, the hudely popular Pinterest is a perfect solution. Create boards for specific ideas or projects, and upload images or add images and video from anywhere on the web. You can also browse the Pinterest community and repin or Like anything that catches your fancy. This method helps unlock creative ideas and style preferences lurking beneath your conciousness. By looking through your Like history, you can easily see patterns and put together collections to get you going in a specific direction. Learn More Wix Wix offers a free online website builder that also uses drag ‘n drop and image upload, with the added benefit of fonts, styling and website elements that make it the most relevant visual brainstorming tool when it comes to conceptualizing a website design. Rather than spending hours in Photoshop prototyping various ideas, the website builder can help you quickly experiment with layouts, colors, textures, fonts and actual interactive elements such as galleries, slideshows and video that graphic editing programs simply can’t do. Beginning March 8th, Wix will be launching an HTML5 builder, streamlining your process even more. Start by brainstorming using the visual editor to create a mood board, refine your graphic elements using your normal design tools and processes, then finish the entire project in Wix to create a fully interactive, valid and highly functional website for your client.

A Collection of New WordPress Themes

The Themes
1. Indie Fest
Regular License: $99
A fantastic looking design for bands and musicians that comes with 8 different backgrounds and 17 main colour schemes. It features a customized twitter feed widget for updating fans, a SoundCloud player to promote your music and a newsletter sign up widget too. It also utilizes the WordPress plugin GigPress for promoting upcoming gigs.
Indie Fest WordPress Theme
2. Unsigned
Standard License: $70, Developer License: $70
Developed by WooThemes, Unsigned is a powerful responsive design for musicians and bands. The theme is very flexible as it allows you to customise the home page using widgets. Several modules are included to help you build the perfect bad website.
There’s an events module for displaying a list of your gigs and events, a discography module that lets you display album information and a galleries module to manage your photos. There’s also a video module, a SoundCloud player and a featured slider. It also includes lots of WooFramework standard features such as short codes, sidebar manager, built in SEO options and custom page templates.
Unsigned WordPress Theme
3. LitePress
Single License: $69
A responsive clean magazine design from WP Zoom, LitePress could be used for an online magazine, news website or blog. Featured images are used heavily in this design. There’s a beautiful featured post slideshow on the home page, a featured category widget and a tabbed widget too. All of which use featured images to promote your posts.
The theme also includes a video custom post type for displaying video slideshows and a great theme options area.
Litepress WordPress Theme
4. Smooth Pro
Essential Package: $39.95, Standard Package: $69.95, Premium Package: $99.95
An advanced real estate theme that comes with IDX-MLS integration. One of the themes best features is the property information search box that lets visitors search by property type, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, location and neighbourhood. Results can be filtered by price too.
Agents can login to your site and add, modify or delete listings. It’s also possible to add video tours directly into listings by simply adding the video link in the post editor video field.
Smooth Pro Real Estate WordPress Theme
5. Backbone
Standard Pack: $79, Developer Pack: $159
With Backbone, ColorLabs have managed to create one of the most beautiful clean responsive theme frameworks available for WordPress. It uses a drag and drop user interface for the options area that lets you customise every aspect of your website. The layout and sidebar managers work great and it has a useful import and export feature for your settings.
Bacbone also comes with two stylish child themes. Kirei is a business template that is suitable for corporate websites and portfolios, whilst Vidio is a great looking blog theme made specifically for video bloggers.
Backbone WordPress Theme Framework
6. A Personal Blog
Regular License: $30
A simple elegant WordPress design that is perfect for personal blogs. It comes with five custom widgets for displaying your logo, tweets and ads. It also has 5 built in short codes for controlling your typography and archives and contact page templates.
A Personal Blog WordPress Theme
7. Guesthouse
Regular License: 35$
Guesthouse is a fully functional hospitality theme that was created for hotels, restaurants, B & Bs, camp sites, travel agencies, ski resorts and more. Designed using HTML5, it comes with 8 theme skins, lots of portfolio layouts and a home page slider that has over 20 effects.
A short code generator is also built in to help you style your content and the admin area can be branded easily with your own logo, colours and text.
Guesthouse WordPress Theme
8. Webworks
Regular License: $35
Webworks is one of the most unique and most stylish designs released so far in 2012. Users get to choose from 4 beautiful animated menus for the home page. It comes with a resume page template for your CV, FAQ page template, 6 portfolio templates, contact template and a blog template that can have the sidebar placed on the left or right or removed altogether.
The responsive design also looks great on mobile devices and it supports 50 font types.
Webworks WordPress Theme
9. ShopDock
Standard License: $39, Developer License: $59
Powered by WooCommerce, ShopDock is an Ecommerce design with a difference. Rather than having to go to the checkout page to view the number of items in their cart, a permanent shopping cart (the ShopDock) is displayed at the bottom of every page using Javascript. It sounds a bit gimmicky but is actually a very useful feature.
Coded in HTML5 and CSS3, ShopDock has a responsive design and it also comes with 7 colour schemes and a great looking customizable feature product slider on the home page.
ShopDock WordPress Theme
10. Perseus
Regular License: $35
A simple yet beautiful WordPress design that is suitable for blogs or portfolio websites. The portfolio template allows you to place portfolio items in 1, 2 or 3 columns. You can also add a nivo slideshow to any of your pages.
It’s not the most feature rich WordPress theme available though this simplicity should appeal to those of you who are looking for a basic yet elegant design for their website.
Perseus WordPress Theme
11. Eleven40
Regular License: $24.95, With Genesis Framework: $79.95
Powered by the Genesis framework, Eleven40 is a beautiful responsive design that can have a 1, 2 or 3 column layout. It also comes with 4 colour schemes and works with custom headers, featured images and threaded comments.
Eleven40 WordPress Theme
12. Vintage Camera
A free, retro blogging design that comes in 5 different styles. It has a responsive design and supports WordPress post formats such as videos and quotes, custom flyout menus and 3 widget areas in the footer. Custom header and background options are supported too.
Vintage Camera WordPress Theme
13. Delicacy
A beautiful clean design that was developed for food related blogs. Recipe details such as preparation time can be added underneath the post editor, though the design could easily be used for any type of blog.
It also features a nivo slider on the home page, 4 custom widgets, 6 colour schemes and 6 background patterns.
Delicacy WordPress Theme
14. Resolution
One of the best looking free WordPress designs released this year. Resolution is big, bold and stylish. It uses beautiful fonts and blog post pages have no sidebar so that more emphasis is placed on content. The theme comes with a basic options area that lets you customise the background image and it supports WordPress menus too.
Resolution WordPress Theme
15. Convertible
Access to all Elegant Themes designs for $39 per year
A great theme for marketers, Convertible allows you to create professional looking landing pages easily. Pages can be designed using a user friendly drag and drop page builder. 13 modules are included to help you build your page including image and content sliders, testimonial boxes, tabbed content and ribbon headers. It also boasts a very cool Ajax powered options page.
Convertible WordPress Theme
16. Sundance
Sundance is a clean blogging theme from the Automattic team. It supports sticky posts and custom headers, backgrounds and menus. A full page template is included and the home page has a beautiful video carousel to showcase your latest video posts.
Sundance WordPress Theme
17. Veles
Regular License: $35
A clean corporate design that comes with 3 different home page layouts. It also comes with a services template, contact template, about us template, blog template and 4 different portfolio template layouts. 5 different sliders are included too and there built in short codes for styling your content.
Veles WordPress Theme
18. Feature!
Regular License: $45
Feature! is a community magazine theme that integrates beautifully with the popular plugins BuddyPress and bbPress. Coded using HTML5 and CSS3, it comes with 6 different colour schemes and 100 background patterns and there is a built in review system with 3 different thumbnail types.
Unlimited sidebars can be created if you want to give each page a unique look. 6 custom widgets and lots of short codes are built in to the theme too. It’s a great option for an online magazine.
!Feature WordPress Theme
19. Domena
Regular License: $20
Domena is a simple clean template that will help you sell your domain name online. A light and dark version of the design are available and there is 4 different colour schemes available for buttons and links etc.
What makes Domena so special is it’s integration with Google Analytics. This option will be particularly useful to those who are selling domains with good traffic. A mobile version of the theme is also included.
Domena WordPress Theme
20. Pixem
Regular License: $35
Pixem is a unique responsive portfolio design that was coded using HTML5. It’s an incredibly versatile theme which comes with light and dark colour schemes. It also includes 12 background images, 2 portfolio styles, four custom post types, seven custom widgets and 8 unique page templates.
Pixem WordPress Theme
21. HyperGrid
Regular License: $35
One of the best gallery showcase templates released over the last few years, Hypergrid is a great design for galleries and online portfolios. Advertising has been integrated into the design perfectly and it comes with a built in submission form to encourage visitors to submit their own websites or designs. The only thing it lacks is the option to charge visitors for submissions.
Hypergrid WordPress Theme
22. Big Company
Regular License: $30
Big Company is a clean corporate design that comes with 15 different colour schemes. What sets this apart from most other business designs is the ability to customise every single page with a different background. This is a great tool for branding different areas of your website.
A fantastic looking pricing table manager is also built into the theme and there are numerous custom page templates too.
Big Company WordPress Theme
23. Handmade
Regular License: $35
With a cute design that is more common on personal blogs, the Handmade theme from Obox is a fully functional WooCommerce eCommerce design that stands out from the crowd. Large images are used throughout the theme to list products and it has a stylish blog template as well.
Handmade is a great choice for an arts and crafts shop or a personal blog and is powered using the OCMX Live theme framework so WordPress beginners will be comfortable using it.
Handmade WordPress Theme
24. Right Now
Regular License: $35
Right Now is a stunning WordPress design for photographers that was developed using HTML5 and CSS3. The rotating full screen background supports images and video. Visitors can change the background using a gallery slider at the bottom of the page. Thankfully, there is a button at the bottom of the page for visitors to turn off audio if they find music from your video annoying.
The theme also supports over 450 Google fonts though one of its best features is the gallery manager that lets you upload more than 100 images at the one time. It’s shaping up to be one of the best selling WordPress themes in the ThemeForest marketplace in 2012.
Right Now WordPress Theme
25. Wisdom Of Life
Regular License: $35
Wisdom Of Life is a clean corporate theme that has a magazine style layout. It was designed for charities and non-profit organisations though could easily be adapted for a news or business website. It includes options for events management, 4 different portfolio page templates and lots of custom widgets.
Wisdom Of Life WordPress Theme