The Noun Project
The Noun Project
The Noun Project
The Noun Project
The Noun Project

The Noun Project

SimpleHonestWork, Chicago, New York, New York, 2010

Description

Project brief: The world contains a giant collection of symbols that communicate to us through a universal language. The Noun Project was created to house and organize this language in a single library that is fun, easy to use and free for everyone. It stands today as the best resource for designers to download and ultimately share this language. Utilizing existing libraries available in the public domain and symbols licensed under Creative Commons, this collection is free to the public, much like those libraries holding written language.

The initial idea started when a good friend, Edward Boatman, simply asked for advice about building a concept for a library of visual language. After a few months, Edward sent a link to a site that his team built and asked for my opinion. After seeing a Flash site full of mistakes, our team decided to take on the project using only open web standards.

Approach: Since the site was failing on the accessibility and usability fronts, our team rebuilt the concept in one night using HTML, CSS, JavaScript and SVG.

Symbols were organized in a simple, scrollable grid unobstructed by text. The unobtrusive layout made for a straightforward, efficient user experience. Each character pronounced its own meaning and the ones with an ambiguous definition offered a moment to learn and become more fluent in this universal language. Creating a library of symbols was just the beginning. We fell in love with the idea, the possibility. The site will soon be open to the world with translations in more than 20 languages—a new functionality to support user submissions, all in an effort to collect and build the world’s largest visual library.

Effectiveness: The site has been available to the public for less than four months and has had nearly half a million visitors. The majority of the visitors return again and again, using this resource for their current projects, which vary from movie posters to short films. New symbols are added on a regular basis, expanding the use of this collection beyond conventional signage characters. As this is done, visual communication becomes useful for artistic expression and education. Coupled with media attention from The Atlantic, Fast Company, Swissmiss and countless other sources, the public’s use of the website attests to its success as a free, user-friendly resource for the symbols that compose our universal language.

Juror Notes

We love the Noun Project! Love!

We all use it in our daily working lives. Beautifully contributed, inviting and easy to use.

Available for four months, half a million visitors.

Collections: AIGA 365: Design Effectiveness (2011)
Discipline: Information design
Format: Website

Credits

Design firm
SimpleHonestWork, Chicago
Creative director
Edward Boatman
Designer
Scott Thomas
Interactive designers
Jeremy Mumenthaler, Hiroaki Yamane
Director
Scott Thomas
Developer
Hiroaki Yamane
Project manager
Sofya Polyakov
Architect
Scott Thomas
Client
Edward Boatman
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