Icon Design: The Basics

December 14, 2010 2 min read

Icons are nifty little designs that add flavor to your web pages while helping to direct users to different areas of interest. While most websites don’t require a ton of icons, they do usually require several and creating these seemingly simple designs can be much more complicated than you think.

Why Use Icons

Icons are used in the design of your web pages to add a visual element to your content. While paragraph after paragraph of text will eventually get boring and a reader will lose interest, by adding icons to break up and accent the text you can keep your readers attention longer.

They are also used in places like the header of a page, the table of contents, in product lists, and in the place of common bullet points. Used in these place, icons add charm to your text and highlight what you are selling or saying.

Icons can go a long way in making a website look and feel professional from the very first glance. They show your readers that you care about even the small details of your business. When designed correctly, they add to your website, not distract from it, and they should be made to go with the flow and feel of your site and other company graphics to add to brand recognition.

Creating Your Own Icon

Creating your own icon design may seem like a simple task, they’re so small right? Wrong. To design these small graphic details, it takes a lot of thought and design knowledge. Typically they are designed in programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. If you don’t have knowledge of these or a similar design software then designing an icon yourself may not be possible.

FREE Icons

One option to getting icons without actually having to design them yourself is to download them for free. There are numerous website that offer free icons for download. For example a website like FreeIconsWeb.com (http://www.freeiconsweb.com) offers thousands that you can download for free and use with various computer systems. However, there are a few catches to getting them this way. Many sites that offer free icons make you give credit to the website on your web page where it is used. Others allow you to download the icons for personal use, but make you pay a license fee if you plan to use them in a commercial way like on a website.  Finally, like other design elements such as logos, everyone has access to the same free options that you have access to. This means that they are probably being used by many other people and aren’t custom or original to your website.
Custom Icon Design

If you don’t have the design skills or the software to design your own, and you don’t want to use the free ones that everyone else has access to, a good option for you is to work with a design service to get custom icons designed. This type of service is nice because you won’t have icons like anyone else, you won’t have to give credit to another website on your site, and you can get specific icon designs that match the exact feel of your website and brand.

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