UX Case Study — Emoji Search on GBoard

UX Case Study — Emoji Search on GBoard

Evaluating The Emoji Search Feature on Google’s GBoard

Disclaimer: This is just a case study based on some of the pain points I have noticed that is in no way Google’s fault and is in no way saying that Google or any of its subsidiaries produces flawed software.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The Emoji Search feature exists in a host of applications, from the web to mobile, and even desktop application, but “why Google’s GBoard?”. Well, for one, I’m an Andriod user and ever since my second Andriod phone which ran stock Andriod 7(Nougat) I’ve used GBoard as my primary keyboard, “but why did you not do this case study back then?”, well my design mind hadn’t developed to notice things like this then, but I’ve digressed.

“Why Emojis?”

“Emoji help to inject tone and body language into what otherwise would be plain text. They are an alternate way to convey nuances and, in some instances, also have the ability to effect an emotion or thought across language and cultural barriers. Examples include a smiley face, a thumbs-up or a wink.”

“Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, for one, uses emoji frequently on Twitter and has even described an entire day in 43 emoji”

From How emojis have changed the way people communicate by Rebecca Lynne Tan

Building on the words of Rebecca Lynne Tan, In truth, Emojis might be the real universal language, because a smiley face in English is still a smiley face in any other language, and so also a sad face emoji and more.

Image from my Behance Case Study

“What Drove You To Write This Case Study?”

I consider myself a modern-day internet user, and with many like me that usually comes with a lot of adaption and changes, the internet is constantly in a state of flux, new things come up almost every single day; a new app, a new meme, a new trend on Twitter, a new hashtag, a new problem, new news, a new dance move, and many more things that cause today’s internet user to change and adapt in many ways.

This a summary of my Behance Case Study and it’s aimed at highlighting the pain point and proposed solutions according to this ever-changing mini-universe called the “internet”.

“What Was The Problem?”

I use emojis every single day across different social media applications and messaging applications like; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, TikTok (yes, TikTok, lol) and many others, and I primarily use GBoard for everything from typing in text to typing in emojis, and everything in between.

And so I discovered one day that I couldn’t find the emoji I was looking for, I had in mind what I wanted but I couldn’t access it, so this piqued my interest and I decided to try searching other emojis and compare the rate of accessibility between them, this little experiment helped me come up with some questions;

  • keywords: what if the keywords were lacking in some way? because we know any search operation is performed using keywords;
  • emojis: what if there aren’t enough emojis to compete with the ever-changing nature of the internet? do we need to design more emojis?

“How Did You Approach Finding Answers To These Questions?”

Simple, “Research (Observation Research)”, I went on my most frequented and even less used social platform and tried to study some of the behaviors and use of emojis by users on each platform, after a while, answers started to emerge;

  • vocabulary: users adoption of new vocabulary (slang) as a result of social interaction amongst users
  • Frankenstein emojis: users resorted to mixing different emojis to come up with the desired expression (emoji)

“What Were The Solutions To These Problems?”

I finally came up with some proposed solutions that might help improve the accessibility & findability of some of the emoji;

  • keywords: adoption of this newer vocabulary on the internet as keywords to aid in the findability and accessibility of those emojis that were harder to find
  • designing newer emojis: as stated earlier users are aching for a more customized emoji set to keep with the changing social environment


Guaranteed, some proposed solutions might have some constraints or bring up some newer problems in production, but I’m open to hearing how these changes (solutions) might improve the user experience or hinder it.
Your responses are greatly appreciated, thank you.

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UX Case Study — Emoji Search on GBoard was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.