Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it; “favicon” is a bit technical for most and it is a small item that is easily overlooked. You have probably seen hundreds of favicons in the past few years and never knew it or at least did not know what it was called. Favicon is short for “favorites icon” (also known as a website icon, page icon or urlicon) – meaning the small graphic next to a website listing in your favorites menu. The favicon enhances a user’s experience and adds to the overall branding experience. Most newer web browsers support favicons and show them in the address bar and in the user’s favorites menu.

Generic Favicon – See the planet? It’s nice that they made the planet just for us.

It is a fairly easy task for a web designer to create a favicon; it just takes a little know how. More recently, a favicon is created with a flexible system using two linked elements in the header of the HTML code. The two elements are generally 16 x 16 pixels and each is placed in the root directory. The two files are a favicon.ico file and a gif or png image. Some designers have learned to animate the favicons (like our Design the Planet website’s favicon).

Branded Favicon & Animated Favicon – See how it rotates out the five Design the Planet elements?

In the past, favicons annoyed many server administrators because they created extra log entries and unnecessary use of bandwidth. Before Internet Explorer 6.0, some IT professionals had privacy concerns that the bookmarked image gave marketers a log of what websites visitors viewed. Since the arrival of Internet Explorer 6.0, the privacy concerns have been eliminated and with faster internet speeds, bandwidth is not an issue for the minute file size. Another benefit of the newer web browsers is that the favicon is no longer removed when a user clears his browser’s cache.

So next time you are surfing the internet, take a look at the address bar for a cool favicon. Who knows, your favorites menu may have a few favicons in it already.