It’s an hour before deadline. You need that last asset before you send the deliverables. Yet the particular icon, color, or illustration you need is nowhere to be found, and you have to comb through poorly named file folders to figure out where on earth you might have saved it. For situations like this, Lingo might offer a helping hand; the app and design system manager allows you to place logos, colors, illustrations, UI elements, photos, and more in one place. You can think of it as a living, breathing style guide sat neatly on your desktop that your entire team has access to.
It’s the latest undertaking by The Noun Project, well known as one of the most helpful places to get icons for truly any purpose. It’s free for personal use, then begins at $7 a month for collaborations. Today, we chat with Lingo and The Noun Project’s Kimi Lewis, who, along with senior product designer Henrique Ourique, is responsible for the app’s bright, user-friendly graphics. She takes us through the ways the app can streamline work processes, and why, one might say, this is the time to get your design lingo down.
How did your team develop the idea for Lingo?
Our mission is to create, share, and celebrate the world’s visual language, which is so much broader than just iconography. Think of all the colors, patterns, GIFs, photos, and other types of visual content we interact with on a daily basis. None of that was on Noun Project, so for us to further pursue our mission we needed to find a way to grow beyond iconography.
We also built Lingo because it solves a real pain point. Last year we did an internal hackathon to push us to go beyond iconography. The first step was for each team member to interview two image “creators” and two image “consumers.” Through these interviews, we learned Noun Project was really valuable at the beginning of a designer’s workflow, when they were rapidly prototyping, but when they moved into creating higher fidelity comps, they were more interested in using their own visual assets instead of Noun Project assets.
We also discovered that people felt their own assets were poorly organized and strewn all across the digital landscape. This was the “aha” moment.
Why Lingo over any other means of organizing imagery?
There are a few apps out there for photo organization, but with Lingo you can visually organize content, moodboard, and collaborate all from your desktop. Also, the ability to drop one file type inside the app and drag out an alternative file type makes for a supremely efficient workflow.
You offer something called shareable “kits,” which get rave reviews despite designers’ typical aversions to templates and toolkits.
Resource kits are ready-to-use assets that sync to your Lingo. Instead of downloading a giant zip file and opening it up to find a messy jumble of folders and visual assets, you can simply hit one button and a meticulously organized kit of visual assets syncs to your Lingo library—everything from color palettes, to icon sets, to UI kits that help designers work faster. We really do believe it’s a great user experience.
Have non-designers taken to it, or is it a pretty job-specific
I work on many marketing efforts, and I use it to manage and oversee all blog content and social media posts that are going out. It gives me a bird’s eye view of what’s going on that month and I can easily organize and reorder visually.
I also pair all the copy that I write for each post or tweet with the respective images in Lingo. The ability to drag and drop allows me to quickly plug content into Sprout Social or Medium, where our blog lives.
Also, using Lingo allows me to quickly get the right assets I need from the product team for feature launches. Every color, app visual, and illustration is right at my fingertips, so I never have to bother the product team.
One thing we’ve learned is a product’s design language isn’t just needed by a product’s design team; it’s needed by everyone on the team from designers, to engineers, to sales and marketing.
So we’ve made sure that Lingo is useable for non-designers, too. For example, assets in Lingo can be accessed on the web, making them available to users on PCs, not just Macs. Lingo automatically creates alternate file cuts of assets, which makes a vector asset immediately useable to people who don’t have vector editing software.
We really believe Lingo can become a platform that connects all the creators of the world’s visual systems with all the consumers that need to use visual systems.