Iconography – So easy, even a caveman can do it (Resource Post!)

Provided by: http://borneo.live.radicaldesigns.org/img/original/cave1.jpg

Iconography goes all the way back to the original cavemen writings on the wall. As you can see to the right, they didn’t care about serifs, italics, or font weight; what mattered was getting the message across as simply and understandable as possible.  So why do you care? Well, what mattered to those cavemen still matters to Libraries today when designed effective icons for websites or mobile devices –

Simple and Glance(ified)

Simple  : readily understood or performed
: free from elaboration or figuration
        (many thanks to Merriam-Webster)

Glance(ified) : comprehendible in a quick look or a blink of an eye
 : not elaborate enough to deserve mental exhaustion

Lucky for us, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel (pardon the joke, I couldn’t resist) when it comes to creating simple and glance(ified) icons. There are many great, FREE resources out there to give you the icon you are looking for OR a base to start from. Some of my favorites are listed below:

  • Vecteezy – For more information about this resources, please see this post. Try searching “icon” in the search box on www.vecteezy.com. You’ll be blown away by all the free icons you can download. Remember, if you wish to use these icons in Inkscape (more about Inkscape here) you will need to download the SVG, SVGZ (gzipped SVG), PDF, or  AI (Adobe Illustrator- this one can act funky so try to download the SVG format if you can).
  • Hlvticons – For those libraries with money to spend, this site has some really nice packages that you can buy that will get you tons of customizable icons. For those libraries (like me!) who attempt to design everything at little to no cost, check out their free package (22 folder icon, 23 social media icons).
  • Glyphish – Also with paid packages but their free package contains 200 icons! I really like the look of these icons for mobile apps. Important license note: Free set published under a Creative Commons Attribution license: simply provide a note and a link back to the Glyphish website. Glyphish Pro does not require attribution and can be used in an unlimited number of projects. MANY of the sites with free icons will have this license agreement on their free stuff. They just want credit where credit is due (sounds fair, right?)

Those are just a FEW of the resources out there. There are sooooo many more to take advantage of – especially if you don’t want to customize them. Smashing Magazine shows off a few options in their, “50 Beautiful, Useful, and Free Icon Sets” article. Please, do remember that you can not edit PNG files! So always look for .SVG, PDF (some you can edit), AI, .EPS, or SVGZ if you are looking to change colors, fonts, shapes, etc.

For software specific editable icons, I suggest adding the file extension in your Google keyword search. For example, those with Photoshop may want to add “.PSD” to their search to make it: “Free editable icons PSD” or “Free icons for photoshop” or “Free editable icons Photoshop.” By doing so, I was able to find this article on Web3Mantra that gave me a whole list of icons to download to Photoshop! Too cool!



NOTE: The “FREE” concept is a common theme throughout this website so that libraries of every size and mission can benefit. However, sometimes it is worth it to pay for the “Pro” packages of resources – more features, better designs, customizable, etc. I recommend looking at the value added by each of your projects before purchasing design resources. If more people came to your community event because of the posters that were designed by a purchased template, then perhaps it is worth it to your library to invest in some more templates or better design software in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask your patrons what they think when you try new designs as well!

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