Standard Link Type Icons?
November 30, 2006 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Are there standard link type icons for the web? Such as the icon indicating that link goes to an external web site?

My client wishes to indicate external links, email, pdf, and pop-up links (I am aware of pop-up issues and am currently engaged in a dialog with the client.) I know you can get a standard PDF link icon from Adobe, as well as the RRS icon from Mozilla, but what about the rest?
posted by juiceCake to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There's most definitely a standard RSS icon, and I'm sure you can GIS a pdf icon or find it at Adobe's website. I have my doubts about anything being standardized for external links and what not.
posted by CRM114 at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2006

As you can see, most of these are boxes with an arrow pointing either northeast or east (the majority pointing northeast).
posted by Merdryn at 9:15 AM on November 30, 2006

There aren't web standards for these icons, but there are usage conventions for web formats (the RSS icon is the only one I can think of right now). What designers often do is appropriate the small file icon graphic from Windows' list view and use that as an inline glyph to indicate file format.

As for a link indicating an external website, more sites are appropriating Wikipedia's glyph, a box with an arrow pointing up and to the right. It will still require explanation to the user, but its presence on some links and not others will help with context, particularly if you set title attributes in the anchor tag appropriately.

For bonus accessibility-fu, insert the icons using stylesheeting so that non-graphical browsers don't deal with text peppered with image tags.
posted by ardgedee at 9:18 AM on November 30, 2006

CSS? But of course.

I figured there weren't a standard set (as I mentioned, I know there are for PDF and RSS), which is unfortunate. I guess there aren't any issues with appropriating so that way site viewers don't have to relearn each time these icons are in use because appropriation makes them appear similar.

I'll design my own then. Thanks.
posted by juiceCake at 9:29 AM on November 30, 2006

So you're asking for email, popup and external icons?

For email, the simple letter icon (sometimes inside a circle) is fairly standard (google images), though '@'s are not unusual.

The wikipedia external link icon is also getting used more and more (the specific image, not just the style), as ardgedee said.

The popup icon from google images is similar to the external link one, often a smaller window on top of a bigger window. But popups are so rare these days I can hardly remember seeing them.
posted by MetaMonkey at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2006

ardgedee is on the money, except in regards to taking icons from Windows. It's a copyright violation. You need to either design your own icons (really redesign, not just slightly modify an existing icon), or find a Creative Commons or GPL licensed icon. Silk icons are pretty nice, and have some different styles to choose from.
posted by team lowkey at 3:30 PM on November 30, 2006

Thanks kirkaracha. That style (not the CSS, which I implement similarly to the techniques outlined, but the icon) is less familiar and appealing to me, but the pointer is appreciated.

Of course IE 6 keeps us from using attribute selectors save for using DOM tricks.

So you're asking for email, popup and external icons?

Thanks for asking MetaMonkey. To clarify, that's not what I'm asking actually, I'm just asking if there is a de-facto standard for them and if so, are there standard files to use.

There clearly isn't, and naturally I was a little concerned about mimicking like designs (for the sake of users afterall, so they don't have to relearn what icons mean) in this age of litigation.

As for pop-ups, I'm engaged in a debate with the client over them. You can probably guess what the differing perspectives are.

Such debates never cease it seems. I shall continue with it.

team lowkey, thanks for the Silk link. I'll have a look.
posted by juiceCake at 11:22 AM on December 6, 2006

The targetalert extension for Firefox includes a good selection of icons.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 AM on October 28, 2007

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