Top 10 Most Improved Emoji

Emoji design is constantly evolving. Here's a look at 10 of our most improved emoji of all time.

Emoji design is constantly evolving. As a fluid and dynamic language, emoji are always changing to better meet the communication needs of users. Typically these changes are the result of one or more of the following:

  • upgrading design standards
  • a desire for greater clarity/authenticity/cross-vendor compatibility
  • changing community needs

JoyPixels understands that emoji development is a never-ending process, and is continually adjusting and adapting emoji designs to meet consumer demand.

"We take extreme care to maximize every last icon. Design is our joy and emoji is our masterpiece." - JoyPixels Mission Statement

Let's take a look at ten of our most improved emoji over the years.

10. Loudly Crying Face 😭

The Loudly Crying Face emoji was one of the original smiley icons released in JoyPixels 1.0 (2015). It has consistently ranked among our most-used emoji and has received attention in every major new release. Over the years, the emoji has seen both flat and rich versions, ultimately appearing in its highly detailed, gradient design in JoyPixels 5.0 (2019). Always true to his original meaning conveying intense feelings, the improvements made to Loudly Crying Face were in response to upgraded design standards and consumer feedback.

JoyPixels Loudly Crying Face emoji
Loudly Crying Face emoji aross vendors

9. Mermaid 🧜‍♀️

The Mermaid emoji first joined our collection in JoyPixels 3.1 (2017). Her much anticipated arrival was made in a sweet, simple design with the flat stylings and colors of the time. Over the years, we introduced the gradients, heightened details, and bolder colors that would become the signature of our collection.

JoyPixels Mermaid Emoji
Mermaid emoji across vendors

8. Person Running 🏃

Truth be told, we're not even sure what's going on with JoyPixels 1.0 Person Running (2015). How does his leg bend like that? Versions 2.0 and 3.0 were minimally better (though that head size probably made him a bit top heavy). Thankfully, we hit our stride (so to speak) in JoyPixels 4.0 (2018), with a more athletic, proportionate runner. In JoyPixels 5.0 (2019), we saw our gender neutral "Person" introduced as a third option for all of our People emoji, illustrated here in their orange shirt.

JoyPixels Person Running emoji
Person Running emoji across vendors

7. Rolling on the Floor Laughing 🤣

Rolling on the Floor Laughing (or ROFL) made its first appearance in JoyPixels 2.2 (2015) and the adorable little guy even had shoes! That was a classic look for sure, but in keeping consistent with other vendors, the shoes were set aside and tears were introduced in our richly designed JoyPixels 3.0 collection. We experimented in removing the tears briefly, but ultimately consumer feedback strongly prevailed and the tears were reintroduced, and the result is the bright yellow, beautifully gradiented design that you see today.

JoyPixels Rolling on the Floor Laughing emoji
Rolling on the Floor Laughing emoji across vendors

6. Cat Face 😺

Cat Face is a classic, first appearing in JoyPixels 1.0 (2015). While the overall icon was cute, it was far outside the Cat Face emoji that other vendors were designing. Part of what makes Cat Face unique among its animal emoji peers, is that it is the only other emoji that has smiley face variants (😺😸😹😻😼😽🙀😿😾). This meant that the scale of the cat's face needed to leave room for multiple expressions, and the switch to yellow conveniently linked it to the smiley faces. In JoyPixels 6.0 (2020) Cat Face and the rest of the animal category received an upgrade to "cute eyes" and the sweet eyebrows that are present now.

JoyPixels Cat Face emoji
Cat Face emoji across vendors

5. Taco 🌮

The Taco emoji made its debut in JoyPixels 2.0 (2015). Its initial appearance was of a very Americanized taco, with a hard corn shell, ground beef filling, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Though the bright colors were visually appealing, the design was decidedly lacking in authenticity. In JoyPixels 4.0 (2018), a shift was made toward a more culturally accurate design. The new Taco included carne asada, cilantro, and onion, in a soft tortilla. The addition of pickled red onions added a final pop of color in JoyPixels 5.5 (2020), for a design that is both authentic and aesthetically pleasing.

JoyPixels Taco emoji
Taco emoji across vendors

4. Pistol 🔫

Perhaps no emoji has seen the controversies that the Pistol emoji has. The Pistol was first introduced in JoyPixels 1.0 (2015), when it took on the classic handgun/revolver style that was the original intention of the icon. However, due to innumerable tragedies, cultural outcry, and a desire to "map to industry designs or our customers' expectations of the emoji definition", as Microsoft told tech site Engadget, the vendor consensus was a shift to a more toy-like appearance. Despite the industry-wide transition, JoyPixels carefully considered its own stance on the presentation of the gun, and for a time offered both a toy gun and realistic handgun. However, the clear preference among users was for the water pistol and that is what ultimately won the spot in our library.

JoyPixels Pistol emoji
Pistol emoji across vendors

3. People with Bunny Ears 👯

People with Bunny Ears is another early icon that has its roots in Japanese culture.  It is essentially a version of the Playboy Bunny - an attractive woman in bunny ears, which is exactly what you see in JoyPixels 1.0-4.0 (2015-2018). In JoyPixels 5.0 (2019) the introduction of the Person option allowed for the default for this emoji to no longer be displayed as women. There are now three options for our bunny-eared dancers, Women with Bunny Ears, Men with Bunny Ears, and People with Bunny Ears.

JoyPixels People with Bunny Ears emoji
People with Bunny Ears emoji across vendors

2. Woman and Man Holding Hands 👫

Woman and Man Holding Hands was first introduced in JoyPixels 1.0 (2015) at the same time as Woman and Woman Holding Hands and Man and Man Holding Hands. From 2015 to 2019, we made only the standard upgrades applied to all of our people. However, in JoyPixels 5.0 (2019), the number of Holding Hands emoji drastically increased, as People Holding Hands and all skin tone variants were added. Users were then able to select from nearly any combination of women, men, or people, in any diversity combination, holding hands. This works out to a total of 74 pairings, marking a huge step in inclusivity.

JoyPixels Woman & Man Holding Hands emoji
Woman and Man Holding Hands emoji across vendors

1. Family 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

The Family emoji was first introduced in JoyPixels 1.0 (2015) with a man, woman, and son present. In the early days, there were very limited combinations available (though they did include options with two men and with two women). In JoyPixels 3.0 (2017) single parent families were represented, and in JoyPixels 5.0 (2019) the gender inclusive Family shown here became the standard. There are now an impressive 20 different Family emoji. Note that at present, Unicode has decided against skin tone support for Family emoji (due to the fact that the current combinations combined with diversity variants would require over 7,000 additional emoji). The yellow skin tone of exisiting Family emoji is intended to appear universal. There are many strong opinions on this topic so it will be an interesting emoji to follow in the years to come.

JoyPixels Family emoji
Family emoji across vendors

New Emoji Coming Soon!

No other emoji company releases design updates as often as JoyPixels. Twice a year at minimum licensees can expect a large-scale launch that includes both new emoji and redesigns of our existing icons. Whether the result of consumer feedback or our own never-ceasing desire for emoji perfection, our library is always a work in progress. We invite you to visit our newest emoji release, JoyPixels 6.5, and to check back soon as we begin to preview JoyPixels 7.0 (to be released mid-2021). Many more exciting design changes are in the works, with further refinements, additions, and improvements still to come! ✨  

Sarah Neufeld

Sarah Neufeld

Sarah Neufeld heads up the blog, social media, and marketing for JoyPixels.
Colorado USA