Web icons for the design impaired

Filed under: — 11:33 pm

iconsA while ago I wrote a popular post called color tools for the design impaired. It seems there are lots of non-designers like me looking for ways to make quality pages, so I thought a sequel was in order.

While pretty colors are nice, sometimes a few good icons can make a web page look better and make key functions much more clear, especially with web services. If you’re not a graphic design wizard, you may find the prospect of designing ten matching 16×16 icons daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to using characters from Wingdings—there are some great icon collections you can buy for a small fee. Here are some I recommend:

  • Dan Cederholm of Simplebits makes two excellent sets of icons available: Stockholm has clear, colorful icons and Overcast takes a more subtle monochrome approach. Both sets include 16×16 and 32×32 versions of each icon. I own Stockholm and have used these, and modified them slightly to create a new one or two, on my quotations site.
  • twothirty media inc. offers the twotiny icon set. It’s $40 (only $30 until March 1st) for 79 well-designed 16×16 icons. I purchased this set for use in a couple of current projects.
  • IconBuffet has several collections ranging from $19 to $289. They all look great.
  • Buyicons.com offers two collections of icons at $49 each. They seem targeted more toward Mac applications, but can be used on websites also.
  • Update 8/1/2005: Iconkits.com has some great icon collections also, although their prices are a bit higher.

All of these collections are royalty-free: after purchase, you can use them on any of your sites without a fee. See the icon vendors for the specific legal terms—I only have direct experience with the first two.

Yes, there are some free icon sites out there too, but I haven’t found any that have the quality or the clear-cut licensing of the above. The best site I’ve found for free icons is The Iconfactory, although they have more picture icons than simple navigational icons. Suggestions of quality free icons are welcome. Using non-free icons has one clear advantage, though—less people use them, so your site will be a bit closer to unique.

If you want to create your own icons, Dan Cederholm’s article Anatomy of an Icon is the best tutorial I’ve found on the subject.

4 responses to “Web icons for the design impaired”

  1. Redesign I’ve been thinking about doing a redesign of this blog for a log time now. So I have decided that I will start to do some test designs and change it when the final version of WordPress 1.5 is released. So when digging around to find a tool to find col…

  2. jp says:

    Cool links… Thanks I found another great site, offers very professional web icons: http://www.iconshock.com $49 USD with a beatifull and clean design… take a look !!

  3. Liliana says:

    Hi many thanks, really cool links… I think the best icons I have found are: http://www.stockicons.com and http://www.iconshock.com – web icons Best, lili :)

  4. Liliana says:

    Sorry, the link is: http://www.iconshock.com – web icons best lili :)

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