Wednesday, July 17th is #WorldEmojiDay. This is a real thing. It’s a holiday created by Emojipedia, also a real thing. Only a few minutes of research will get you to the list of the most popular emojis and not surprisingly, number one is the red heart and number two the face with tears of joy. The Emoji Report by Brandwatch breaks down emoji usage and states that on average 75% of Twitter emojis are positive and 25% are negative. However, interestingly, around the time of the 2016 U.S. election, negative emoji use went up substantially.
One of the reasons we like emojis is that they save us from typing words. The smile emoji alone can mean “I’m so happy I’m on vacation at this amazing beach” or “I’m happy you’re cooking dinner tonight.” The heart emoji expresses your love for an infinite number of things. Emojis are a visual language that are universally understood. They are in the same category as icons and infographics, all of which exist based on the idea that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
A visual language can help users of a website understand where to click or what the content promises to be. Infographics can create a story that otherwise might be pages long. Just like any other language, it is important that a visual communication is clear and consistent, but more importantly, it needs to be there for a reason. They should have meaning to the audience and make a message more obvious rather than more confusing. Emojis, icons, infographics… they have all made it into our everyday method of communicating, we just need to be sure we use them correctly and that they are understood by our audience.