Remember how back in the day when you were a tot and using Internet
Explorer 6, you could put a custom icon next to a bookmark in your
Favorites? Thanks to the birth of Internet
Explorer 5x, you can now put that icon on the Web, and have everyone else
see it, too. Or, rather, the estimated 75 percent of your readers who are running
Windows and have Internet Explorer 7.0 or better.
So, what's an "icon"? According to my official techno-babble dictionary,
an icon is a small graphic that represents an object think of your
little trash can or recycle bin on your computer's desktop. In this case, we
will be dealing with a square bitmap made up of a small grid of pixels with
a layer mask on top. This mask allows the bitmap part of the icon to show up
on your screen, while any masked parts remain transparent. Icons usually
contain more than one set of bitmaps and masks per file, so that the system
can switch the icon automatically if you change the resolution or color bit
depth on your screen.
Why would anyone want one popping up in their browser? Even though it's
another Microsoft-sanctioned security risk item (which Microsoft itself doesn't even utilize
aside from the default Internet Explorer icon), adding an icon to
your URL gives your site more individuality and, of course, increases the
cuteness factor considerably. When presented with this pretty piece of GUI along side the
content they so crave, your readers will come back to your site time and time
The icons we'll be creating will show up both in the user's Favorites
list and the History/Address bar of the browser. Also, if a user really
likes your site and wants to add a link to your page in his or her Windows
Start menu, your icon will show up there as well. Any shortcuts that they
drag to the Desktop, the Quick Launch toolbar, or any other folder or menu
will also display your custom icon.
Are you salivating yet? Do you want one bad, like real bad, like
"I'm so crazy I could hop a fence" bad? Calm down! The fun has not
yet begun. To be able to make and edit icons, upload them to your website and make them viewable in your users' Favorites lists, you must have all of the following:
- Windows 95 or later.
Explorer 5x or later.
- Icon editing software we're using IconForge for this tutorial.
- Website/FTP access, and your Web host should allow you to upload .ico
In this tutorial we'll cover the making, the breaking and even the faking
part of being an icon-eer.
Let's get started, already!