Designers: Consider the Icon

As designers and visual communicators, we should do better to consciously recognize the communicative value of icons and symbols. Designers are a curious breed of people: we are creators, inquisitive leaders, thinkers, and ponderers of how we can spark change through the process of design, and how we can improve communication and understanding through what people encounter in their everyday lives. We research, question, and create. We know that design can a powerful vehicle for change. It is part of how we add to the melting pot of ideas that is the world around us.

That’s why we’re asking for you to help us brainstorm and curate a library of urban and civic symbols for the public domain at our San Francisco Code for America Iconathon.org on August 6th.

Consider the icon. Icons are an integral part of how we visually communicate basic ideas, and one of the most basic elements of how government provides needed information to the public (think: “curvy road” or “camp site”). The use of iconography in today’s life is has become so widespread that we often take this form of communication for granted, if we actively notice icons at all.

Properly designed icons are a powerful way to communicate information. Well designed iconography is something that conveys ideas in a form that is universally recognizable, and achieves a clarity of message through powerful reduction. Best of all, iconography operates in a way that overrides culture, language, and background: a properly designed icon informs regardless of context.

We at Code for America are interested in harnessing the power of clear, compelling, and informative design to improve the public space. We want to help support the creation and refinement of symbols that can be used by anyone to instruct and inform, and to improve the sense of ownership that communities have over basic communication.

Join us August 6th as we unite our passion for change with the creative process, discussion, and design.

Register now, and find out more about the event and process at Iconathon.org.

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