Choosing an icon pack is little like a marriage: one time and for a few years. It’s also good to know what you’re getting yourself into. Being the wingmen that we are, we put together a series of 3 article about choosing icons.
All in all, there are 3 types of resources you can turn to find your dream icon:
- Independent icon packs — which you’re reading now article
- Tips for navigating icon search engines
- The Ins-and-Outs of icon tools
Independent Icon Packs
We’ve conducted a study about the way designers choose icon packs. The study revealed that the size of icon packs is the top criteria. If an icon pack is large enough, designers will go on to check other parameters such as quality and style.
We maintain a list of the largest icon packs; see our Big Ass Icon Packs on Pinterest. Among them, these are the heavy hitters that we’d like to feature:
Icons8 — presents 23,000 icons in 4 opearing system styles: iOS, Windows, and Android
Streamline — 4000 icons for iOS and Android, all vector
Iconsmind — about 2000 icons for iOS7, iOS8 and Android
Glyphish — old, and they’re famous for being included in Bootstrap, has 1600 icons for iOS
Iconmonstr — the numer of their icons is unknown, but it’s at least a few hundred. It’s not a paid icon pack, but we’ve included it for their size and quality.
Font Awesome — It’s also not a paid icon pack, but we’ve decided to mention it for its popularity. It contains only ~400 icons, but they’re well crafted, well documented, and hosted on a public CDN.
Advantages of Independent Icon Packs
- Large amount of icons on various subjects
- Consistent quality and style across an icon pack
- If some icons you need are missing from the pack, you can ask the designers to draw them (and maybe they’ll respond)
Disadvantages of Independent Icon Packs
- Besides Icons8, icon packs don’t have any software. All you get is the bunch of files. Searching, inserting into HTML, converting, recoloring — it’s all a bunch of manual work
- They lack automation. The problem is particularly acute for search system. In our tests, inserting 7 icons took 29 minutes without search and 40 seconds with search. Imagine sitting in front of your screen searching through a list for thousands of different icons, all with a consistent look
- Many the icons packs are not actively developed. Streamline had 1600 icons a year ago. Glyphish releases a few every once in a while
- Icons8 is $149-199 plus $50/year for updates
- Streamline can cost up to $2000 for multi-site license
- Iconsmind has a subscription pricing model—$59 for updates during 1 year or $79 for unlimited updates
- Glyphish icons packs cost between $25-$99
- Iconmonstr and Fontawesome are completely free