Let’s Talk About the Importance of Favicons

By . Filed in Web Design

Editor’s note: Jarrod Wright, the owner of Subtle Network Design & Marketing, offers search engine marketing and creative design services to a wide variety of clients. You can follow him on Twitter.

Online business veterans know it’s the little things that set a company apart from the competition. Newbies will quickly learn that fact! No matter what your level of expertise, there are certain things you are probably overlooking when it comes to your website’s design.

The perfect example is your site’s favicon. Do you know what a favicon is? Are you using yours effectively?

An Introduction to Favicons

The term favicon is short for “favorites icon.” Originally, the image was used to distinguish pages in a list of favorites (now commonly referred to as bookmarks). Over time, favicons have developed other uses as well.

Additional locations you’ll see a favicon include:

  • the left side of the internet browser’s address bar for active pages
  • in the drop-down list of predicted URLs (if your browser uses a prediction service)
  • in the various open tabs of your browser

The Implications for an Online Business

You might be wondering why on earth we bothered to dedicate an entire post to favicons. Well, this is why:

Favicons Make Life Easier

By now, most people who use the internet regularly are accustomed to seeing favicons. Your average internet user probably doesn’t know too much about them. However, users do appreciate their presence and definitely notice their absence.

favicons

The brain can process images much easier and quicker than words. When browsing through a list of favorites, users can quickly find the site they want by the accompanying favicon.

The same thing happens when an internet user has several tabs open; the favicon makes it easy to distinguish between different sites.

If a site doesn’t use a favicon, there will simply be a blank page listed beside the website name. If a site doesn’t use a favicon, there will simply be a blank page listed beside the website name.

When a user has multiple bookmarks without a favicon, selecting the desired site becomes much more difficult since all the blank pages will look the same.

Favicons Establish Credibility

Your site’s killer design will definitely grab visitors’ attention. However, once their attention has been snagged, you need to induce them to stay for awhile. When the internet first came about, “sticky websites” was a phrase people used to describe sites that did just that – compelled visitors to stick around.

One of the ways to do that is to project the appearance of a credible business. Otherwise, visitors will leave before they can appreciate what the site (and business) has to offer.

Including a custom favicon is one way to establish credibility. It may seem like a small gesture, but visitors will notice and appreciate what it signifies. Likewise, visitors also notice when WordPress newbies use the default favicon that came with their theme. While something is better than nothing, custom is better than default.

A custom icon tells visitors you are willing to go the extra mile to meet their needs. That professional attitude builds a customer’s trust.

Favicons Build Brand Awareness

We all know the importance of logos. It is what visually connects us to a company. What would McDonald’s be without the golden arches? Or Twitter without the little blue bird? Whether it is derived from your company’s logo or an entirely new visual representation, a favicon functions like a miniature logo. It helps internet users remember your brand.

Creating a Favicon

Is a custom favicon necessary? No. However, I think we have pretty much established they go a long way in improving the overall quality of a visitor’s experience.

If you are ready to create a favicon, upgrade from your WordPress default, or enhance an outdated design, here is what you need to do:

  • Search for a free favicon generator on the web (there are tons to choose from)
  • Create your file (usually 16 pixels by 16 pixels)
  • Go to the images section of your theme
  • Add or replace the default favicon with your custom design

Remember, a favicon is a very small image. Don’t add too much detail and don’t be too fancy. An indistinguishable favicon isn’t much better than no favicon at all.

Try using the initial letter of your company’s name in a distinct font. The Google favicon is a perfect example of this. While it may seem like a simple way to go, using your company’s initial can be as basic or elaborate as you want.

If you already have a company logo, see if you can incorporate some or all of it into your favicon. Check out how Amazon combined both their logo and company initial.

If you are new to the online world, this may be the first time you’ve given any thought to your favicon. As a business veteran, it has probably been several years since you’ve even glanced at your custom image. Either way, make sure your favicon is an asset – not a hindrance – to your website’s success.

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This post is published by a Hongkiat.com staff (editors, interns, sometimes Hongkiat Lim himself) or a guest contributor.

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