It’s All About the Icons

icons

We live in a visual world.  From ads you see on billboards to french fry containers to web graphics, everything is driven by visual aids.  A picture can say a lot with one glance that text can’t.  Colors, design, and placement convey feeling, mood, and ideas.  It’s evident everywhere we go, whether it’s to McDonalds or a parking lot – images and icons play a big role in conveying a message.  Small wonder that this has taken over the technology world, too.

For me, at least, icons are present in everything I do on the computer.  As my earlier post showed, I organize my Firefox toolbar by favicons, saving space and relying on complete visual recognition.  This means, however, that all my favorite sites had better have a nice looking favicon.  It better be a transparent one, too.

RIM has made icons its focus in their Blackberry phones.  The entire device is organized and sorted by colorful icons.  It’s almost what makes a Blackberry a Blackberry.  Apple, too, has adopted this idea and sorted each application in it’s popular iPhone by a square icon.

The beauty of icons is that they are small, consistent, and eye-catching.  Nobody wants to stare at text links all day – they want an image.  Let’s face it – Google wouldn’t quite be the same company if it weren’t for their simple but colorful logos and favicons.  Twitter wouldn’t feel so comfortable.  RSS wouldn’t have the immediate recognition.

Here are a few tips to creating a friendlier impression for your site.

  • Make sure you have a consistent logo, and that it’s on EVERY page
  • Add a favicon.
  • Use instantly recognizable images for widely-used service (RSS, Twitter, etc)
  • Use colors that go well together.  Your site will do better if people want to look at it.
  • Use, but don’t overuse, image rollovers and effects.
  • That said, try and keep it in CSS, HTML, or JavaScript.  Remember, there are older browsers and slow internet.
  • Try and compress your images sizes as much as you can without losing quality so that they will load faster.  When people come to your site, BAM – there’s your logo.
  • Remove white space from your code and deactivate unused plugins – it’ll increase the load time of your page.
  • Don’t forget the KISS rule – Keep It Simple, Stupid.
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