A favicon is an icon associated to a website or web page, it is also called website icon or page icon. There are several ways to implement it but the most traditional one is placing a favicon.ico image file. This image is going to be displayed in the web browser tool bar and bookmarks.
Favicons are not only important for marketing and branding proposes but also for usability:
- Favicons help the user to identify pages among the web browser tabs
- They help to visually identify bookmarks
- Because of the previous two points, they make users to save time and to make internet browsing a more comfortable experience
Notice how easy it is to identify tabs if they have favicons:
Users can easily search through bookmarks that have favicons:
The Branding Problem
Sometimes using favicons requires to make a balance between branding and usability. In the following example Google uses the same favicon for all its services. This has a positive and a negative effect: on one side different services benefit from the main Google brand if they share the same favicon, on the other side it makes difficult to differentiate different pages and services from the same company. This a valid approach but using several favicons for different services of the same company/website could improve usability.
The Google favicon among different services:
Today two of my favorite companies decided to tell me how little they care about me and other customers. In my opinion, not bothering users with useless information is highly related to the general design of a website and usability. Keep in mind that a good website should make users’ life easier trying to make processes simple and short and without disturbing users when they are doing other activities. In another example of how design, usability and marketing mix each other I will show you the emails I got from Google and Apple.
The first mail came from Google, it was actually coming from "noreplay" and the subject was "New Optional Benchmarking Feature Available in Google Analytics". That was it, no link to get farther information, no content in the email. At all. Then I went to my Analytics account, there was an item for the new feature in the menu but nothing inside. OK, this could be a new feature that is coming but the way they announced it was a little bit careless (maybe arrogant?).
Don’t get me wrong, I do really admire Google. They usually make good marketing, they design good processes and they care about usability. And that’s why the following email makes me angry:
The second email making me angry today comes from the Apple iTunes Store (Germany). Yeah, I love my iPod and I love Apple products but lets have a look at the following email. Apple decided today that they wanted to send me spam, OK, it was not unsolicited email because I signed up for the newsletter, but the information on it was as useless and aggressive as spam could be.
The "iTunes alert me" newsletter should recommend me music I might like. Today, Apple sent me an email offering me an album I already have, one that I listen to very often and one that has been released 4 years ago. I am sure Apple already knows all that, so why bothering me with so useless information?
Improving your website branding could increase the time visitors stay. Many users get into a page and if they don’t easily notice what the website is for, they leave, forever.
"To be effective, a tagline should be clear and exact…"
One way of showing what your site is for is adding a tagline to your logo design. A tagline is the word of phrase usually written below a logo. To be effective, a tagline should be clear and exact, without fancy wording.
Kohls.com "expect great things" does not tell anything. In this case the tagline is totally useless.
Lowe’s "Let’s Build Something Together" is a better usability approach, but users still have to think a little bit to know what Lowe’s is selling.
Thottbot "World of Warcraft Database" is an excellent tagline example that tells users straight away but the site is for.