How and Why To Use Free Icons On Your Website

Using icons on your website can be a simple yet valuable way to add visual impact, user direction, and brand identity. Even better, if you can find free icons that fit your branding you can upgrade your website with them at no additional cost!

Thankfully, there are scores of free icons available around the web (including those available exclusively here on Design.dev) that you can utilize in your projects. In this article, we are going to look at why you should use icons in your website and some ways you can implement them.

Navigation Icons

Icons can kick your website navigation up a notch by adding easily identifiable visual representations of menu items next to their text counterparts. A simple example of this that is often used is a house icon next to (or sometimes in place of) the “Home” link in the menu. Of course, you should not just throw any random icon next to each menu item, because that could produce the opposite effect and confuse your website visitors. Instead, it is important to find and implement icons that represent a clear visualization of each menu item. One of the best free icon sets available that can be used for this scenario is FontAwesome, but there are a lot of other free icon sets that you can use as well.

Free Icons in Navigation

Icons on Buttons

Similar to navigation menu items, buttons can utilize icons to enhance your call to action and draw the user’s attention. For instance, here on Design.dev we use a download icon on our download buttons, an ellipsis icon on our “Load More” buttons, and a paper airplane icon on our newsletter signup button. These are all very simple implementations, but they improve our user experience and potentially increase conversions over text-only buttons.

Free icons on buttons

List Items

Bullet lists can be so, well, boring, can’t they? Adding icons to replace the little black bullets is a simple yet impactful way to enhance otherwise visually boring text. This can get a little trickier if you are not a developer with knowledge of how to code this change, but it is extremely easy to do if you are, and therefore inexpensive if you need to hire a developer to make this change on your website. Here’s a very simple example of this from our website:

Free icons in bullet lists

User Experience

There are a multitude of other ways icons can be used on your website to direct the user experience and flow. Some examples from our own site include:

In form fields, to help identify what is to be entered there;

Free icons in form fields

A search icon;

Search icon

Design software platform logo icons (as product filters and category identification);

Design software platform logo icons

Above headings to aid in identifying them and adding a pop of color;

Heading icons

Social sharing buttons.

social sharing icons

So, as you can see, icons are a great way to enhance and upgrade your website in a number of ways when used properly, and using free icons can make this a no-brainer if you can find the best ones for your use case. That is, of course, the key: never implement elements on your site that do not enhance or improve it somehow, whether that be visually, in the user experience, or to solidify your brand identity. You should only add free icons to your site if they are clear visual representations and serve a purpose – do not add them just because you want to or because reading this article encouraged you to make such a change.

Now that you have an understanding of how and why you should use free icons in your website, be sure to check out all of the free icons here on Design.dev to see if any of them will work for your website.