I came across this article today at Smashing Magazine that contained some links to a host of useful, creative icons. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about icons and their usage. I know it’s not new information for anyone who is familiar with web design, but sometimes it’s a good idea to ‘refresh’ the brain.
“Icons may represent a file, folder, application or device on a computer operating system. In modern usage today, the icon can represent anything that the users want it to: any macro command or process, mood-signaling, or any other indicator. User friendliness also demands error-free operation, where the icons are distinct from each other, self explanatory, and easily visible under all possible user setups.
Icons may also be found on the desktop, toolbars and in the menus of computer application software such as Microsoft Word. Icons are made more use-friendly by being very distinct from every other icon. Each Icon-set may also have unifying features that show that similar icons are related to each other. Icons show this by:
- Contrasting Sizes
- Composition (large or small area, top/bottom, left/right, centered/perimeter)
- Pattern-contrast (Horizontal-striped, vertical-striped, slanted-stripes, circles, oblongs, …)
- Light-On-Dark, or Dark-On-Light
- Color contrasts
- Fine-detail (with thin lined drawings)
Virtually every major computer operating system has the ability to use an icon-based graphical user interface (GUI) to display information to end users; this is evident in the usage of the term “icon” in the WIMP computing paradigm (for Windows, Icons, Menu, Pointers).”
In addition to the usages listed in Wikipedia’s definition, some of these icons are probably useful in site designs as well. Many of the icons listed in the article are restriction free for your use. Some of them have Creative Commons licensing attached to them, so please double check their usage abilities and requirements. If you find other good collections of icons, please let us know and we’ll be happy to feature them here.