Deploying Icon Fonts for the Web
Illustration by John Hersey

Finding icon fonts


Deploying Icon Fonts for the Web

with James Williamson

Video: Finding icon fonts

Obviously, the first step in using icon fonts in

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Watch the Online Video Course Deploying Icon Fonts for the Web
2h 4m Intermediate Apr 29, 2014

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Icon fonts are a fast, effective way to feature scalable vector artwork on websites. James Williamson shows you how to properly deploy icon fonts on your own site in this short course. Learn how to find an icon font that's right for you and style it so it appears exactly the way you want. Then learn about deployment options that will make your icons accessible and display consistently across multiple browsers and devices. James also introduces advanced styling options such as animated and multicolored glyphs.

Want to create your own icon fonts? Check out James' companion course, Creating Icon Fonts for the Web.

Topics include:
  • Finding icon fonts
  • Ensuring consistent styling
  • Exploring class-based solutions for deployment
  • Deploying with the data-icon attribute
  • Aligning icons
  • Animating icons
  • Styling multicolored glyphs
James Williamson

Finding icon fonts

Obviously, the first step in using icon fonts in your project, is to actually find an icon font. When looking for an icon font, you currently have several options. First, there are a number of icon fonts available for you to download, and use in your own projects. Some of these are free and open source. While others are considered what they call premium icon fonts. And, you can purchase those, and use them. You can also use some of the newer online hosting services, that now host icon fonts similar to the way Typekit hosts web fonts.

And in a moment, I'm going to show you a couple of those. You can also create your own icon font. Several online services allow you to create custom icon fonts from existing libraries. Or allow you to upload your own artwork. If you don't feel like using one of those services, you can always use Vector Art Creation software and font editing software to create your own icon font from scratch. Well the first thing I'd like to do is just give you a big list, of a lot of the available icon fonts out there. Now I could load all of these up in individual tabs, but thankfully Chris Coyier, a little while back has compiled what I think is the absolutely most comprehensive list I have ever set my eyes on.

Now this includes icon packs as well as icon fonts. So when you're looking through this list on Chris's site, make sure that you understand whether it's an icon pack or icon font. Of course, if you really like an icon pack, and you have the rights to it. You can always download one, and then use one of the online services to construct an icon font out of it. One of the more recent trends has been for online hosting companies that are going to host icon fonts. This is, WE LOVE ICON FONTS. And I am assuming that they do.

Now what they'll do for you is a lot like the Google fonts, web fonts API, they host icon fonts here that you can link to and use in your projects. Now they state very clearly here on the homepage that there they are just starting out. They are cautioning you against using them in actual projects but this is a service that is going to mature so you want to keep your eye on it. Similar to We Love Icon Fonts is Icomatic ,this is another online hosting service for icon fonts. What's really interesting about most of the hosting services out there is it they also have an icon font generation service as well.

So these sites are kind of blurring a little bit and with Icomatic You can create a custom icon font, or you can have them host it, so you can kind of do both with these guys. This is another newer service, so you want to keep an eye on them and see how they're going to grow. Probably the oldest icon font service out there is Pictos. Pictos was one of the first icon packs that sort of matured into an icon font. And since then, they've got a ton icon fonts that you can download, these are more premium fonts so you're going to pay for these, or they do also have the Pictos Server which allows you to create custom icon fonts and host them through Pictos, so it's a really interesting service.

It's been around for a while so it's pretty stable, so this one you definitely want to check out. There are also two services, one of which we're going to take a closer look in the next exercise. This one is IcoMoon and the other one is Fontello. And these guys are almost the same. They do very similar things. Essentially what they do is they build custom icon fonts from multiple font packages that they host on their site. Or you can upload your own custom art work. What's truly interesting about this is through one of these services you can sort of combine existing icons fonts with your own icons to create something really custom and neat.

As you can see, there are a lot different options available for you when you choose an icon font for your project. You obviously want to pick one that matches the design aesthetic of your site. And is going to work well with your plan design I really feel like I need to point out however that its equally important to make sure the icon font that you use is created in a way that allows you to deploy. It the way that you want with that in mind I'm going to discuss character coding in our next movie and how it might affect your choice of icon fonts.

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