Every now and again I’m pitched a startup that I “get” instantly because it addresses a problem I’ve faced in the past and solves it in a simple, laser-focussed way. Niice is one such startup. It’s created a tool aimed at designers who need to create moodboards — a collection of inspirational images — in order to seed the creative process. The cloud-based moodboard-making service quietly launched a freemium version earlier this week.
Part image search engine, part image collection creator, Niice lets you search for images within its preselected image sources consisting of design galleries and various image communities on the web. The idea is to save designers having to trawl through bookmarked sites or rely solely on something like Google image search, as well exposing them to images they might not otherwise come across.
From there on in you can begin adding images to your Niice moodboard. It’s as simple as clicking the plus button, and each image you add is displayed as a thumbnail in a strip that runs across the top of the search page. As well as images sourced from Niice’s own search engine, the startup offers a Chrome browser bookmarklet so you can add images sourced elsewhere on the web.
Each board you create has its own unique URL and is private, in the sense that it doesn’t show up in search engines and isn’t displayed publicly on Niice. So it’s easy to share a moodboard with colleagues or clients and other stakeholders in the design process, without the rest of the world knowing your creative inspiration. In addition, moodboards can be exported as a JPEG, which I found pretty nifty.
Overall, the tool is beautifully but simply designed, which gives confidence considering its design-focus.
Pricing-wise, it’s currently free to create 5 moodboards, with paid tiers offering unlimited moodboards, as well as additional image upload, backup features and the aforementioned moodboard export.
“Designers currently search for inspiration with services like Google Images or Pinterest, however in both cases they have to dig through a lot of noise to get to the content that’s relevant,” Niice’s Andrew Fulton tells me. “By only searching across a handpicked list of high quality sources, Niice returns results that are more relevant to professional designers than they will find elsewhere.”
It should be noted, however, Niice isn’t the only cloud-based tool for creating moodboards. Another company — though doubtless there are others — is MoodShare, which I saw pitch at the London tech pitching event TechPitch 4.5 all the way back in 2011. There’s also something like Icebergs, which might be best described as a visual Dropbox, with lots of collaboration features built in.