is Favicon.ico? Personalise Your Site's Bookmark
What is Favicon.ico? Personalise Your Site's Bookmark
Some time back, I had an email from a visitor asking me how I
managed to have thefreecountry.com's icon displayed next to my URL
in his browser's location bar. In fact, had he checked carefully,
he would also have noticed that the icon is also used in his "Favorites"
Internet Explorer ("IE") 5.0 and above has a facility
where, if someone bookmarks your website, it associates a particular
icon with your website in the bookmark. It tries to obtain that
icon by first requesting for "favicon.ico" from the directory
of your web page. If it cannot find such a file, it will try to
obtain it from the root directory of your website, failing which,
it will simply use a default icon for the bookmark.
On the other hand, the favicon.ico file is available, the icon will
also be displayed beside your website name in the "Favorites"
menu, the location bar in IE, and if the user opens up the "Favorites"
folder, it will be the icon used for the link to your site.
What You Need
If you have an Windows icon editor (which you may already have if
you have purchased a programming language development system for
Windows), you're all set.
All is not lost, however, if you do not have the above. Windows
users can still create ICO files with the following tools:
1. Get any graphics editor that can create a GIF or BMP
file. For example, the Windows Paint program that comes
with Windows can create a BMP file. Actually you can use any graphics
editor that can create a graphics file that is supported by IrfanViewer
(see next requirement).
2. Download the free IrfanViewer from http://www.irfanview.com/.
This is an excellent and free graphics viewer that can not only
display a huge variety of graphics formats, but also convert between
them. You will need this to convert your graphics file to the ICO
format that IE and Windows require.
1. Create an image 16X16 pixels in size. Yes,
it is really small and you can't really draw much in it. You should
also restrict yourself to the standard Windows 16 colours, although
I suspect that 256 colours (which is present on most Windows platforms
nowadays) will work fine.
If you like, you can also create a 32X32 pixel icon, which will
be scaled to size for the Favorites menu and the location bar. You
can even put both 16X16 and 32X32 pixel icons into the same icon
file. Windows will use the former for its menus and the latter when
the user opens up a folder that is set to display large icons. It's
probably not really necessary to do this if you can't be bothered.
2. Save the image. If you have an icon editor,
save it as an ICO file (named "favicon.ico", of course)
and skip the file format conversion step (below). If you are using
Windows Paint, save the image as a BMP file. If you are using another
program you might want to try saving it in a GIF format. Even if
your program does not support these formats, you might still be
able to get away with it if IrfanViewer can load and display that
3. Fire up IrfanViewer and open the file you created.
Click File | Save as to open the "Save Picture As" dialog
box. Select the "Windows Icon" type from the "Save
as type" drop down box. Change the name in the "File name"
edit box to "favicon.ico", and click the "Save"
button. IrfanViewer will automatically convert the file to the format
4. Upload it to your website. You need not upload
one to every directory of your site if you don't want to waste space
- simply put it in your root directory and IE will apparently locate
Help! My Web Host Doesn't Allow ICO Files!
If your hosting company does not allow files with the .ICO extension
to be uploaded, you might try to work around it by uploading it
(in binary mode) with some other extension (like GIF). Once it's
on your site, rename it using your FTP program to the correct extension.
How Many People are Bookmarking My Website?
This "favicon.ico" actually has a useful side-effect whether
or not you bother to put a special "favicon.ico" on your
site. You can actually find out the number of IE 5+ users who bookmark
your site by simply counting the requests for "favicon.ico"
in your web server logs. From that number, you can estimate the
total number of people who bookmark your site by applying this formula:
number of IE 5 bookmarks divided by the fraction of your visitors
using IE 5.
For example, if two-thirds of your visitors use IE 5+, and you get
100 requests for the icon, simply divide 100 by two-thirds to get
150. This is by no means an accurate measure - it does not take
into account numerous factors: but at least it can give you a hint
of how useful people find your site.
All the best on your website!
About the Author
Christopher S L Heng.
Get more free tips and articles like this, on web design, promotion,
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