Thursday, January 29, 2009

F A V I C O N S


What's the most recognised logo in the world?
It would probably be Google's if only they could stick to one. Yet as the world's most popular search engine tries out a new favicon, Craig Smith says the old branding rulebook is being rewritten.
It's not the size that matters, it's how often you use it. So the thinking goes at Google, which has just revealed the design of its latest favicon - the tiny logo that shows any web user, on any web browser, anywhere in the world, precisely whose internet "real estate" they are currently residing upon.
An example of a favicon can be seen at the top of this page (so long as you are using an up-to-date enough web browser). Just in front of the URL http://news.bbc.co.uk/... there is a small BBC logo. That 16x16 pixel square is the size of the favicon in question, if not the scope.
Now consider that, at the website owner's discretion, the logo appears on every single one of its pages that the world's web population loads. For Google that amounts to upward of 1, 200 million individual searches. Every day.
Add to that its Google News, Google Images, mobile search and multitude of other online services. Suddenly the favicon takes on an importance that belies its fingernail-sized dimensions, and the motivation for Google to roll out its third design in less than a year, as it attempts to get its favicon right, becomes clear.
Google's journey to this latest multi-coloured graphic identity charts a course through some of the unique challenges of favicon design, and through those of logo design in general. The world's leading search engine, whose very name has been adopted as the generic term for finding pages on the web, has achieved web domination without ever having had an actual logo.
Magic Eye style
Think of Google visually and you will probably picture the letters that make up the word Google, picked out in bright primary colours. In the designer's lexicon, rather than being a logo, Google has a logotype - albeit a very successful one around which it is famed for creating ever-changing topical "doodle" themes.
DESIGN A FAVICON
What makes a good favicon? Here, BBC designer Mick Ruddy suggests four key points
1. Keep it simple - use basic shapes
2. Use a limited colour palette
3. Avoid fine detail or lots of gradients
4. Keep it sharp - keep an eye on blurring

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