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What Is A Favicon? The Power of Small Pixels

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A favicon is a minuscule but powerful entity that plays a pivotal role in branding your website and enhancing user experience. Known as a term that is short for favorite icon, a favicon is a tiny icon that represents a website in various places across the web. Its primary purpose is to help users identify your website quickly among a multitude of opened tabs or bookmarked pages.

While the dimensions of these are typically just 16×16 pixels, its impact on your online presence is anything but small. So what is a favicon? This article dives into the world of favicons, exploring their importance, their influence on SEO, and the process of creating and implementing them.

The Essence of a Favicon

Traditionally, a favicon is a minuscule 16×16 pixel icon that serves as the visual identity for your website on the web and in search results. Its primary function is to aid visitors in locating your page more easily when they have multiple tabs open.

Due to their diminutive size, these image files perform best as simple images or one-to-three characters of text. They are not to be confused with logos, although sometimes they can be the same. Given its small size and resolution, they may need to be an even smaller size or part of a company’s original logo.

The Visibility of a Favicon

Favicons are located alongside anything that identifies your website. This includes bookmarks, tabs, toolbar apps, history results, and search bars. Below are a few places where one can spot one:

  • Bookmarks drop-down menu
  • Browser tabs
  • Toolbar Apps
  • History drop-down menu
  • Browser history
  • Search bar
  • Search bar recommendations

The Importance of Favicons

Creating a favicon is a small but critical step in setting up a business website. It lends credibility to your site and aids in boosting your online branding and trust from potential consumers. They are an immediate visual marker for the website, offering easy and quick identification for web users while unifying all the browser components into a well-branded browsing experience.

Favicons and SEO

Though favicons are not directly responsible for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they indirectly contribute and are an essential tool for improving your ranking on search engines. Here are some reasons why having one can boost your SEO:

User-Friendly Websites Lead to Increased Use

Having a user-friendly website indirectly enhances your search engine rankings. Having a favicon visible on your browser tabs, bookmarks, history archives, and so forth helps your users save time by allowing them to identify and browse your website without difficulties, increasing the likelihood of user interaction with your website.

This improved interaction will enhance the time spent and interactions with your website, meaning that more eyes will be on your website for a longer duration, thereby improving your SEO.

Boosts Bookmarking

A favicon gives you an advantage over websites that don’t use one. The Chrome browser by Google deducts certain search ranking signals for websites bookmarked on the web. If you don’t have one on your website, you may miss out on the opportunity of being bookmarked on the Chrome browser, indirectly missing out on one of many search ranking signals.

Moreover, getting bookmarked and then visually standing out in that list of bookmarks puts your website in a better position to be revisited by users. All this increases your website traffic and SEO.

Enhances Branding and Visibility

A favicon is a visual representation of your website and business, so users will identify with your brand based on the one you use. SEO is all about branding and marketing, and the more visible your website is, the more users are likely to click on your web page and remember who you are.

Creating a Good Favicon

Crafting and designing a favicon for your website requires careful consideration. While the favicon is small and simple, it can (and should) have a significant impact. It’s crucial to produce the best favicon possible, as this is what users will identify your brand with. Here are some factors to keep in mind when creating your favicon:

Use Space Wisely

A favicon can’t always be a smaller version of your company logo. You should consider your overall size of yours, sticking to 16px since this is acceptable by all browsers.

Embrace Simplicity

Though the favicon is the visual face of your brand, you want to keep your design as simple as possible. The best versions are the simplest. Too much detail will only make the icon look cluttered and messy.

Reflect Brand Identity

Your favicon is the visual icon for your brand, so it should visually tell users what your business represents.

Consider Abbreviating

Finding the perfect visual may not be practical for what your business does. A common solution to this is to use the first letter of your business name or acronyms.

Color Coordination

Color choice should come into play as well. Contrasting colors make it easy for the eye to recognize shapes and the focal point of your favicon. Due to the small nature of these images, you need to clearly represent your company to the user, and color use can be crucial.

Sizes Required for a Favicon on Web Browsers

While the generally recommended size for a favicon is 16px, as it can be used across all browsers, you might want to create a version for every possible use. In that case, follow the guide below:

  • 16px: For general use in all browsers, could be displayed in the address bar, tabs, or bookmarks views
  • 24px: Pinned Site in Internet Explorer 9
  • 32px : New tab page in Internet Explorer, taskbar button in Windows 7+, and Safari’s “Read Later” sidebar
  • 57px: Standard iOS home screen (iPod Touch, iPhone first generation to 3G)
  • 72px: iPad home screen icon
  • 96px: Used by the Google TV platform
  • 114px: iPhone 4+ home screen icon (twice the standard size for the retina display)
  • 128px: Chrome Web Store
  • 195px: Opera Speed Dial

Favicon File Formats

In contrast to the past, when a favicon needed to be in the Windows ICO format, now there are a few different formatting options. Here’s a look at each one in more depth:

  • Windows ICO: The ICO is by far the most widely supported file. The benefit of the ICO is that it can contain multiple resolutions and bit depths, which works very well and is especially useful for Windows. ICO also offers a 32-pixel icon which is useful for Internet Explorer Windows 7 taskbar. It is also the only format that doesn’t use the element.
  • PNG: The PNG format is useful for several different reasons. You don’t need any special tools to create a PNG file, making it very user-friendly. It gives us the smallest possible file size and supports alpha transparency. However, one big disadvantage of this style is that Internet Explorer will not support a PNG file; it only supports ICO files.
  • SVG: This format can be used and is supported by Opera browsers.
  • GIF: This format doesn’t offer any advantages outside of use on old browsers. While they will draw more attention to users, they also have a tendency to irritate, and the general consensus is that they are in no way an advantage.
  • JPG: While this format can be used, it is not common and won’t provide resolution quality as good as PNG. Additionally, due to the small size of the favicon, the JPEG loses all of its benefits.
  • APNG: This is an animated version of PNG and while it may be supported by Firefox and Opera, it has the same problems as the animated GIF, distracting users while looking at their interface.

Adding a Favicon to Your Website

After creating your favicon, the next step is to add it to your website. The process of doing this differs based on the platform your website is built on. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add one to some of the most popular website platforms: WordPress, Wix, and Shopify.

Adding a Favicon to Your WordPress Website

To add a favicon to your WordPress site, go to Appearance > Customize. Next, go to the menu located on the left sidebar; find and click on Site Identity. The Site Icon section is where you can select your image and add the one you want to be displayed.

If your theme does not allow you to upload your favicon on the theme customize settings, you can use a real favicon generator and upload to the Insert Header & Footer plugin.

You will need to click Select your Favicon picture and upload your favicon on WordPress Media so you can generate a URL. You will select the second option and paste your URL in the box. Click Generate your Favicons and HTML code.

Real favicon will generate an HTML code, and you can copy the whole code. Go to the Insert Headers and Footers plugin under Settings and paste your HTML favicon code in the section. Click Save.

Adding a Favicon to Your Wix Website

You can add your favicon on your Wix site by going to Manage Website >Favicon. Click the Upload Favicon button, and you select or upload your image. There is no save button, but rest assured yours will be saved automatically by the system.

Adding a Favicon to Your Shopify Website

To add your favicon on your Shopify site, you’ll need to go to your Online Store. Click on Customize, then click on Theme Settings > Favicon. You can select an image from your media library or upload a new image.

What Is A Favicon? A Wrap-Up

Favicons may seem small and insignificant, but they are powerful tools that can significantly enhance your brand’s online identity and the user experience on your website. By understanding what a favicon is, its importance, and how to create and implement one on your website, you can take a small but critical step in setting up a successful online presence.

Whether you are a startup, a small business, or a large corporation, having a favicon is an essential part of your branding and marketing strategy. So, if you haven’t already, start creating yours today. If you need help with this or any other aspect of your website development, remember that we understand the importance of favicons when we build websites. Let us take it from here and help with your next project.

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