We’re all trained by now to think in icons. Triangle means play. Speech bubble means chat. Plus sign means add. Icons are great way to sum up instructions or ideas in visual ways. This simplified visual representation allows us to process the information quickly and minimizes lengthy text explanations.
That’s why when I’m creating web graphics, I rely heavily on using icons. If time allows or if the idea is pretty complex or unique to the situation, I will create a custom icon. But I’ve found a great site for when time is short or you don’t want to reinvent the wheel: iconfinder.com
On the homepage, you can search for the type of icon you need, or you can scroll down to preview a few different sets available.
What I especially love about the site are the straightforward license agreement details that are included. That way, I know if I can use it with no strings attached, if I need to link back to the designer’s site, or if I need to credit the designer somehow in the graphic itself.
Most of the time I’m looking for free/no strings attached icons, like this set: https://www.iconfinder.com/iconsets/48-bubbles
Click image to enlarge.
But depending on the project, I might want to use a specific kind of icon design and I can credit the designer. Like this one: https://www.iconfinder.com/iconsets/sympletts-free-sampler
Click image to enlarge.
Yet, if I do want to customize an icon, and I often do, I can download the native .ai file and modify away (depending on licensing restrictions).
I also really appreciate the ability to very easily download the icons in different sizes or file formats, without having to do those steps myself in Illustrator.
For example, the following is an excerpt from an earlier blog post of mine, in which I downloaded the .ai file for the book icon, recolored it in Illustrator, and used it in the blog post with the image itself linked back to the appropriate site:
Excerpt above from: http://ittrainingtips.iu.edu/business-productivity/simplify-your-tech-life-tip-1-pilot/03/2015
Be sure that when using icons on web pages, you’re using good alt tags and image descriptions to keep your site up to standards with accessibility.
Also, note that if you download a few icons from iconfinder.com, they’ll prompt you to create an account with them. This is a simple login process and is free.
And remember, many social media icons are already available at different sizes in IU colors from brand.iu.edu in if you’re working on IU-related projects. View the logos downloads page and scroll down to the Icons files.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post on using the symbols in Illustrator for your iconography.