I’ve been using icons from the Noun Project for the past two years and it’s been wonderful to see how they’ve grown.
Visual communication via symbols is at least 17,000 years old. Now, in the age of the Internet, it’s going global. Meet the founders of The Noun Project, a unique platform for finding, creating, and sharing a universal visual language that everyone can understand. Media Temple (mt) Client Showcase: The Noun Project
“This new breed of public-interest designers proceeds from a belief that everybody deserves good design, whether in a prescription bottle label that people can more easily read and understand, a beautiful pocket park to help a city breathe or a less stressful intake experience at the emergency room. Dignity may be to the burgeoning field of public-interest design as justice is to the more established public-interest law.
Careful listening is an integral part of this human-centered approach to design. IDEO.org— a nonprofit spinoff of the premier design and innovation firm IDEO — has made radical listening its hallmark; IDEO.org associates observe and grill would-be clients and sites with so much rigor that they could easily be mistaken for anthropologists. AnIDEO.org team assigned to redesign sanitation in Ghana, for example, spent weeks slogging from home to home asking families intimate questions about their bathroom habits before they began designing a system that would safeguard against cholera and other waterborne diseases.
The need for designers — and their ingenuity and interest in beauty and functionality — is not limited to Africa, India, Haiti or other far-flung places where architects and designers are commonly called upon following natural disasters. People who struggle to maneuver strollers and wheelchairs in and out of urban transportation systems or work in a deadening sea of suburban office complexes share the same basic need for enlivening, dignifying design. Anyone who has recently visited a local motor-vehicles office most likely knows about the need we have in mind.”
“The film brings simple action verbs to life by animating their dramatic essence with simple graphic shapes. It’s like a periodic table of storytelling atoms: “dream” is illustrated by three white dots arcing gently upwards like a kite string; “learn” shows two tiny circular loops closing into completion with a satisfying, solid pop; and in “love,” a dot and a line “see” each other through a perforated barrier, move past it in graceful sync, and then clasp together like Romeo and Juliet. The genius of Tiny Story is how each of these vignettes—mere seconds long—suggests a whole narrative world with only the sparest of building blocks. And strung together, the vignettes build on each other to suggest an even larger story about, dare I say it, the human condition.” - Fast Company Design
The UN has a symbolic problem. It’s an office building abstracted into a simple form with hundreds of repetitive windows. Its message is that the UN is a uniform and unreachable bureaucracy. Even the assembly hall is a problem. It’s an object next to an obelisk. It doesn’t exactly radiate openness.
“Spiekermann (who also designed Berlin’s subway diagram) is right that we “misunderstand” the London Underground diagram when we think of it as a map. But so what? If that misunderstanding makes no huge difference to its usefulness — which is probably the case for most people, who use the diagram (and think of it) in a basically maplike way and get on fine — the misunderstanding is moot, neutral, meaningless. But if that misunderstanding does make a difference — for example, makes it more difficult for a user to do what they want to do, which is see where they are and see where they’re going — isn’t that a shortcoming of the design, not the person? And if that misunderstanding is indeed “common,” as Spiekermann says, mightn’t it make sense to bring the design more in line with users’ maplike expectations?
Noad’s redesign is of questionable utility, but every redesign is: That’s the point. The questioning. “Is this artifact a diagram or a map?” is an interesting question, but it’s not really the question that Noad’s redesign is asking. It’s asking, “could an artifact that’s a diagram and a map be useful?” I live in New York, where our subway display has been a map/diagram mix for decades, so I’m inclined to think “yes, it would be useful.” Most native Londoners, who’ve been trained to think “diagrammatically” about their subway system for 80 years, might think otherwise. But that’s who defines the answers (note the plural) to that “questionable utility” in the end: the users, not the designers.”
Old London Tube Map
Redesigned London Tube Map
via: Fast Company