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Best hacks of using icons on a website

I'm the owner and founder of PIT Designs. I love creating digital presence and creative digital solutions for our clients.


Posted 11 months ago on February 28th, 2022.

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In the simplest terms, an icon means a symbol. In the world of computers, icons represent a program, feature, or entity graphically. Generally, on devices or websites, you notice that these icons, when clicked, lead to their associated functions.

With the entry of GUI operating systems, icons became an integral part of the user interface. Not only did they save space by replacing text, but they also helped in beautifying the entire layout. In recent times, designers are playing around with iconography to make any web page more engaging and lively to their users.

Based on their styles and colours, there are different types of icons that we use today on applications and websites. However, when we talk about using them on a website, there are some special file formats that designers and developers prefer based on their needs. The current trend is of using vector images (SVGs, glyph icons, font icons, etc.) for all types of development, be it for applications or websites.

Role of using icons in a website

Website engagement is the most crucial factor that acts as a catalyst in converting your visitors to customers. You might have good services and products to offer, but if your website lacks design aesthetics, you are certainly going to miss the expected sales numbers from your website.So, it becomes necessary to finish the design of your website with an attractive approach.

Multiple entities complete your website - text, images, videos, animations, colors, etc. Icons are one such item that you can use on your website; to improve the website layout. We see that iconography has been a crucial mode of communicating specific information throughout human history. In today's digital world also, icons are one of the most used graphic elements. 

Why are icons important?

They describe functions

Other than icons, you can use words to represent a function, and undoubtedly, it will be a more direct approach. But can you imagine a website where only words describe every function?

The biggest problem with words is that people lose focus while reading lengthy text. For this reason, the use of icons becomes paramount. Not only do they reinforce a message, but they also add variety to a section making the whole layout appealing.

They explain a story!

Icons are perfectly suitable to explain a story graphically in a small space that otherwise would need a long paragraph. Besides, people tend to understand any piece of information more easily with visual aids. Icons do that for your visitors. Consequently, you could have more engaged customers.

They help visitors share information.

Your visitors truly enter your sales funnel when they become prospective clients. For that matter, gathering their information through forms and questionnaires is the most important.

Your entire website is generally designed in such a manner that it leads visitors to take the required call to action. It may be "Contact Us" or "Get a Quote" or anything else. So, it becomes crucial that a great user experience compliments the time visitors spend on your web page to lead them to fill a web form.

Filling a form can again be a boring job. The textual description of data accompanied by icons makes it easier for users to understand the objectives of a web form. If they feel connected, they fill it.

They make navigation easy.

Icons have proven their worth in visually explaining concepts and functions. However, they also have a great deal in navigating a website. You can use icons to locate certain sections and follow certain information throughout the website. For instance, if you have several services or products to showcase on your website, you can use icons to lead users from one category to another with just a click.

They make the layout more stylish.

There are several types of icon styles that you can use depending upon your website's design theme. For example, you can use simple icons, shadows & relief effects, linear icons, 3D animations, etc. However, you must understand that these effects should match your website's overall aesthetics.

How to use icons on a website

You can use icons on your website, web app, or mobile app through different methods. For example, you can pull them from some third-party CDNs, serve them individually, and embed them using CSS. It all depends on your application/website needs. 

As discussed before, designers have preferred vector images mostly in recent times. And out of all vector elements, SVG icons have become a popular choice for them as they provide high-quality resolution even when you lower the file size. Moreover, you can easily have all free SVG icons downloaded from a source for your website.

Let's discuss in detail some tips & tricks that will help you design a sleek, modern, and stylish website design using iconography:

Best hacks of using icons on a website

Material icons from Google

Google material icons are among the most preferred elements for using icons on any web app. You can directly serve them from their CDN via Google Web Fonts or host them from your web app.

You can add these icons to any framework or application. The simplest way is to add a link to the Google Web Fonts in the index.html page as:

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/icon?family=Material+Icons" rel="stylesheet">

Then you can create a <span> tag with the class material icons and tag the name that represents the icons wherever you want to add it on the web page. 

You can also change colour & size and animate the icons as they are an icon font. Besides, they are also free to use!

Font awesome

Font Awesome comes with free and pro versions. In most cases, the free version will provide you with almost every icon that you need from its massive selection. It's also quite similar to Google Material Icons in usage and differentiates mainly in using <i> tag in place of <span> tag.

Font Awesome offers you both options - download a ZIP file and host it on your server, as well as use CDN and place it on your main HTML file as:

And you can simply add the <i> tag with the corresponding class when you want to use it on a page as follows:

Glyphicons (Bootstrap 3)

Well, there is no need to download or install anything on your site for these. Instead, you can add a line inside the <head> section of your HTML page.

Hosting icons from own site

When you want to have more control of where the icons will be available, you can also host them from your website. For this, you need to include them in a format that suits the best as per your project requirements.

You can create an 'assets' or 'icons' folder for SVG icons. In other cases, you can have a 'fonts' folder at the root of your website and serve them from there.

You have physical SVG icons in a folder called 'assets/svgs', and you need to create a root CSS file 'svg-icons.css' to specify some global styles that will apply to the icons. Then, you can set the size. So that, when they load inside a container, they automatically show their size according to their containing element:

Conclusion

It is worth your attention that you can use SVG icons on websites and mobile native apps. SVG icons have proven to be a valuable asset by providing high-quality images despite decreasing their sizes. We hope the above-shared details will help you solve your iconographic problems. Furthermore, you can get all free SVG icons downloaded from various sources and make your website design highly user-friendly and engaging.