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What Is an HTML Favicon?

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  • Written By: D. Grey
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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A hypertext markup language (HTML) favicon is a small graphic image which usually serves as a helpful visual reminder for a certain website. It is most commonly visible in the address bar of most modern web browsers as well as in the user's bookmarks or favorites list, giving rise to the term favorites icon, or favicon. An HTML favicon serves multiple purposes, including website branding and increasing ease of use for visitors. Setting up an HTML favicon involves creating a compatible image and designating its location within the website's HTML code.

Websites that use an HTML favicon are very common, most likely because of the relatively easy set up process and the benefit of increased visitor awareness. When a visitor bookmarks or adds a website to their browser's list of favorites, in most cases, the favicon will be visible in this list. This can make the site more visually apparent in the list and may allow the visitor to return to the website more easily. In addition to standard web browsers, favicons are generally visible in other online enabled devices or applications capable of retrieving them, such as mobile phones.

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Adding a favicon to a website is a part of an overall website design. Oftentimes, website designers will use a favicon that represents the logo of the website, which can aid in branding practices. A quickly recognizable image used as a favicon may be displayed in locations other than just a visitor's bookmarks or favorites list, further adding to its usefulness. For example, other websites, such as news or blog post aggregation services, may use the favicon, or other identifying graphics, when providing a link to the website. Using an HTML favicon that is similar to a logo or other graphical images may help visitors to consistently remember and recognize a particular website.

The image used for an HTML favicon must follow certain guidelines in order to be displayed correctly. A size of 16 x 16 pixels or 32 x 32 pixels is required, and the color depth must be either 8-bit or 24-bit. After the image is created, it must be uploaded to the Internet, usually on the same server which hosts the website, or be made otherwise accessible by the website. Once the favicon is available, a small piece of code, designating the image's location and telling the website to display it correctly, must be added to the header section of the HTML code.

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