The Favicon, an Untapped Impression Promotion Trick – Animated Favicons?

A favicon will be that little image that a lot of browsers display on the address line and in the favorites (bookmarks) menus. Tabbed browsers like Firefox and Opera extend the efficiency of favicons, adding them to their tabs. The name was coined predicated on Internet Explorer (the initial browser to aid it) and derives from “Favorites Icon”. Each browser has a unique interface, and for that reason uses the favicon in different ways. The favicon allows a company to further promote its identity and image by displaying a logo, a graphical message, etc. Usually, the favicon reflects the appearance and feel of the web page or the organization’s logo.
A traditional favicon is actually a Microsoft Windows ICO document. An ICO file is truly a repository of bitmap like photos. They are used because in a few locations a 16×16 pixel picture is desired, and quite often a 32×32 image may be needed. Sometimes a 16 shade image is desired, and in some cases a 256 color icon is desired.
You probably already knew each of the above.
But did you know that Firefox can show animated favicons? If you don’t trust me, open Firefox and go to my site, bsleek.com (there must be a link at the bottom of the article). unless you have Firefox, download it, it’s a “must have” and you will quickly fall in love with the simplicity and capability of tabbed browsing. Even though you are not a designer but only a site owner, in today’s environment you absolutely got to know how your site looks in all browsers. You would think that all websites should look exactly the same, but as browsers are more diverse and more sophisticated, standards are not respected and things can get messy. For example, I just discovered that a few pages on my web page don’t look as expected in the most recent version of Opera and ought to be adjusted.
Ok, I hope by now you saw my animated favicon in Firefox and returned to the article for more information about it…
The main reason why you can observe animated favicons in Firefox is basically because Firefox abolished the proprietary ICO formatting in favor of the ability to display any supported image formatting in the favicon location, including BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG and… animated GIFs.
So now you understand the big key, the animated favicon is only a tiny animated GIF.
Here’s a very neat trick, that can actually be used to visualize how any impression appears like as a 16×16 pixel icon – as soon as you start designing one of those, you will realize that it is very hard to produce a legible image on a 16 square pixels canvas:
Find any site with any graphic that you are interested in. Right click the image and chose “View Photograph” from the dialog. A blank web page should display with your chosen image and surprise: you can see a miniature 16×16 duplicate of the picture as a favicon! Uhh… perform I must mention again that people are doing all of this in Firefox?
A hacker’s mind will immediately think of how great it could be to utilize this feature as a change tool. Unfortunately, unlike Internet Explorer and Opera, Firefox doesn’t store FavIcons in .ico data files, the icons are stored in an encoded format immediately in the bookmark file.
You can apply the same principle to animated GIFs and you will notice that a miniature variant of the animation also plays in the street address bar and on the tabs.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why you don’t see that many sites using animations is browser compatibility. Animated favicons aren’t treated at all by Internet Explorer. A static image will never be extracted from the animation often. Alternatively, the default .htm icon (as defined in Windows’ filetypes) will be placed under one’s Favorites – once added, that’s. The animations are not reinforced by Netscape, Opera, Konqueror, Safari; at least so it seems at the time of this writing. The Firefox relatives seems to be the only real friend to animations, however as browsers evolve, broader help for animation will probably come along (or, the concept will die).
So, why not take advantage of this *right now* and ‘beat the rush’?
Basically, this is one way it’s done:
1. You make a 16×16 animated GIF.
2. You upload the animated GIF to the “root” of one’s site, or to any location.
3. You hardcode in your page the positioning where Firefox should look for the animation.
That’s really it, “big image” wise.
If you don’t feel too creative or just don’t have time and/or patience, a reputable professional design firm (such as for example Bsleek) should be able to create a nice animated favicon for you. Another choice – I don’t endorse it, as your goal ought to be to excel through unique articles and push your personal image out there – would be to find one of the many galleries online and possibly download a all set made animated favicon or take a large animated GIF and resize it and/or edit it in another of the many available tools. There are also sites that offer online animated favicon creation from a standard image (check out chami.com, discover “FavIcon from pics”, they have a straightforward but neat scrolling text feature).
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If you are however a fellow do-it-yourselfer, then simply let’s elaborate and appearance at some techniques and valuable tips:
So far as tools go: If you are a lucky owner of Adobe’s excellent Photoshop, then you also have a companion use called ImageReady. Linux consumers have Gimp, an incredibly powerful and free graphics use that may easily handle animated GIF creation. What many people don’t know is that Gimp is also available for free for House windows and the Mac. Addititionally there is GIMPShop in the wild, which is a nifty GIMP variant for the photoshop-inclined crowd (did I mention free?). There are also many specialized GIF animation manufacturers, some freeware, some not.

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