Design

Pictos creates 'Typekit' for icon fonts

New Pictos Server lets you choose from 650 icons

Designer Drew Wilson has expanded his Pictos royalty-free icons project, unveiling Pictos Server. The new venture enables you to build icon fonts from a 650-strong library. The website states that Pictos Server works in a manner similar to Typekit, "in that you paste a Pictos code snippet into your HTML and the Pictos Server will serve your custom made icon font straight to your website". However, the site notes that the Pictos snippet does not rely on JavaScript, instead using CSS and a <link> element.

We spoke to Wilson about Pictos Server, which he said was a natural step for Pictos: "Most customers who bought the Pictos font wanted more. But I didn't want to release another Pictos font, because that would have meant people loading in icon font files with 94 icons, but only using a few of them, thereby wasting bandwidth. Giving people a way to pick and choose icons was the solution."

According to Wilson, Pictos Server gives web designers benefits over more typical icon solutions. You can mix and match icon combinations, and through the use of a single <link> element, you're done. The combinations are also simple to update, for example when a client requests changes. "Styling icons with CSS means after you get your base styling down, you'll never need to fire up photoshop again when adding new icons to a website. And by picking and choosing which icons you need for your site, you will be serving up the smallest possible file sizes to your users," he adds.

Future plans include opening up the service to more sets beyond Pictos, but even in its current state, Pictos Server has piqued the imagination of those in the industry. Typomaniac Erik Spiekermann told us it's a "great idea, because fonts are easier to handle than images". He added: "Icon fonts are scalable and small. They aren't readily found by search engines (SEO) but can be with a bit of CSS and HTML5. Icons should replace a word, not an image, can save space, be used across languages, and also look pretty on the page."

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