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Probably inspired by Product Hunt, indie makers are notorious for using (abusing of?) emojis in their products. And they are not the only ones to love a good emoji. According to a report from Facebook, more than 900 million emojis are sent every day on Messenger without any accompanying text.

Marketers say that emojis help give more personality to messages, increase engagement on social media, strengthens your brand identity, and more. So what do indie makers think about using them?

“Emojis are pretty cool, because they can be used as an internationally understood icon set. For our landing page we don’t currently use them, just because I feel it wouldn’t add anything at the moment. On our internal documents we do, and on blog posts I use them for sure,” says Leandro, founder of Unubo.

Some companies are even using emojis as a core functionality. For example, Monzo, allowing users to add an emoji when sending or requesting money. Or Thyself, built by indie maker Fraser Deans, which lets users track their mood using only emojis.

Other makers have a very practical view of emojis. “We’re using them in tables in our admin view to indicate state for data records” shared Joe Mainwaring.

But not everyone likes them.

“Seems like alot of startups do it. As a customer it puts me off, just doesn’t look great, most of the time it feels unprofessional. I must add though, it of course depends on your audience too” answered Ian, an administrator of Beginning Creators.

The audience and the purpose: these seem to be the drivers makers need to keep in mind when deciding whether to incorporate a sprinkle of emojis in their product or external communications.

“It’s ok if the product is designed for a community or help to communicate, also it’s useful for onboarding processes. But for blog posts I won’t use them it doesn’t bring clarity also like words although they may look like shortcuts, they do not always allow you to get to the point. Another example is in a context of accessibility, screen readers read a description of the emoji and can add layers of crap for blindness / bad vision people when it’s used in an abusive way, the worst case in on Twitter” explains Vincent, co-founder of Threader.

Clo, maker and UX Researcher at This Too Shall Grow, adds: “I think we’re using them too much. I don’t think they’re inherently bad, symbols in themselves can be very useful, but it’s getting to a point where we’re replacing words with them. Instead of showing appreciation with words, it’s just going to be ‘??❤️’ and I feel that this is a loss regarding our wide and nuanced vocabulary. Instead of explicitly saying what we like about x, we’re sending a standardised message with a few empty symbols. It feels a bit like 1984: reducing the possibilities our languages offer.”

Ultimately, it boils down to preference and tone of voice. There is no doubt emojis are fun, but fun is not always the vibe we want to give. We at Maker Mag love emojis, but think they should add to a product or to copy, rather than attempt to hide the hollowness of a message.

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