How do you tell a Russian, a Guatemalan and a Cambodian the forest in which they are harvesting greens can be a dangerous place? With words, maybe. With images? Definitely. Luis Prado, a member of The Noun Project community, tells us how he used symbols to visually communicate vital information for the Department of Natural Resources:
In Washington State, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages state trust lands that earn revenue to build public schools and universities, and much more. Some are forestlands selected for harvesting specialized forest products like salal and ferns, popular in the floral industry. ‘Brush harvesters’ get a permit, and flock to the forest where pretty butterflies are not the only inhabitants. Hunters go there too—they target-shoot and they hunt various animals during several hunting seasons. Logging trucks drive on narrow roads year-round.
Concerned about harvester safety, DNR’s Law Enforcement called upon our DNR Communications & Outreach team for help. Safety was paramount, and harvester visibility in the forest was a key issue. Brush harvesters wearing warm dark clothing were not easily distinguished from the trees and shadows of the forest. We needed to communicate key safety concepts and harvesting rules basics to harvesters from diverse cultural origins, many of whom do not speak English.
Perhaps a cliché, but true nonetheless: an image (and an icon) is worth a thousand words. We needed simple designs to communicate complex concepts. And what better to communicate this than designing with recognizable iconography? The Noun Project to the rescue.
In choosing or developing icons we tried not to use images that may be misinterpreted or offensive to people from various cultures. As an example, a happy face was a better choice than a thumbs-up or thumbs-down icons.
The materials produced include an accordion-like booklet that fits into a pocket with one side showing key messages, and the other side displaying an attention grabbing “Workers in forest” text that can be posted on the back window of the harvester’s van to let other forest visitors know of their presence. The outreach effort also includes metal signs for entry points into forest roads, and posters for educating brush harvesters about the need of wearing bright-colored clothes, purchasing necessary permits, and following the rules. In some panels, a translation to Spanish and Cambodian Khmer was included.
Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Communications & Outreach: Design by Luis Prado. Editors: Jane Chavey, Jennifer Arnold; Larry Raedel, DNR Law Enforcement Chief.
Icons from The Noun Project: Harvester, van and logging truck icons designed by Luis Prado/DNR; Hand icon by Øystein W. Arbo; Trash by Roger Cook, Don Shanosky, Riley Shaw; Open Hands icon collaboration by Jack Biesek, Gladys Brenner, Margaret Faye, Healther Merrifield, Kate Keating, Wendy Olmstead, Todd Pierce, Jamie Cowgill & Jim Bolek. Happy & Sad Face icons by Tobias F. Wolf.