At the moment I’m working on making mini-flash cards for my EFL Kindergarten course. (You can download my free kindergarten mini-flash card template.)
The way most language schools make their mini-flash cards is they download black and white images from Google Images.
The problem is that is usually going to be illegal, because the images will almost certainly be copyrighted. Also, the quality of the images is typically poor. Many images contain watermarks to protect their copyright, and they don’t resize well.
For making my own flash cards, I bought a subscription to Iconfinder.
It’s a website I used a while back for another project that required high quality icon-style graphics. The size and quality of the collection has tripled since I last used it.
Iconfinder now has around 3 million icons. In practical terms, I’ve been able to find an icon suitable for use on my mini-cards for almost every search query I’ve thrown at it.
Its not just that there are lots of images, many of the designs are excellent. Most of us have seen clipart or photo stock websites that have a few really good images, and hundreds that are rubbish. You don’t know whether its going to be worthwhile to subscribe to the website, because you can’t tell how many good images you’re going to get.
Iconfinder has a solution for that: its a curated collection. Designers have to submit their icons for approval, and not all are accepted. For the user, it means you don’t have to sift through hundreds of poor quality images to find good ones for your projects. It’s a good move on the part of the company, because it attracts more customers, which, in turn attracts more quality designers. The designers pick up a nice passive income stream from submitting their icons.
But there aren’t just black and white icons, there are reasonable number of coloured icons at Iconfinder, too. I’ve used some of these for this website, and I’ll use a few for PowerPoint presentations in the classroom.
One of the things I really like about the icons is that they’re vector graphics.
With vector graphics, the file sizes are tiny – as small as 2kb. That’s kilobytes, not megabytes. When I use the SVG formatted (vector) images, the image will look the same, regardless of whether it is used on a tiny mini-flashcard or resized to a massive A3 poster. There is no loss in image quality as would be the case with a normal JPEG image or photo.
Contrary to what the Iconfinder website currently says, you can use SVG file formats in Microsoft Office programs like Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. If find a program that you can’t work with the SVG format, you can convert the SVG to PNG or other format quite easily.
There’s also a tool on their website you can use to edit and modify any vector graphics you want to download. You could do the same thing in most graphics software, though.
Most important for me is the license terms.
I know that if I download them for the purposes I need them for, I can just use the graphics without worrying about violating anybody’s copyright.
But there isn’t just paid icons on the website. Iconfinder offers free icons as well.
Many of the designs in the free collections are also attractive. (Obviously, the really good designers want to earn more for their work, so tend to put them in the premium collection).
But there’s a catch. If you use the free icons, you usually have to give some attribution when you use those icons in your project. For instance, some SEO companies put icons in sets for you to download, however, if you use them, according to the license they’ve set, you have to link back to their website. And that’s their SEO strategy, they want their website to rank higher in Google and so want to get lots of easy back-links.
I’ve been excluding the free icons from my search by default. It means I can use the icons I’ve purchased for the uses I want and not have to worry about any kind of attribution.
Overall, I’m really impressed with the website, and the company.
After much excitement browsing the site and downloading icons, I had a question I really wanted an answer for. When I went searching for support, it was hard to find how to contact them directly. I put it to them that their support was hard to reach, and pointed out all of the places that I would normally expect to find options to contact support.
Their response was unexpected.
They completely agreed with me, and changed their website within 4 hours to add those contact points.
Another reason I’m raving about them is that I love finding great products that are supported by really good companies. This is because I love to hunt down the best products for my own needs. Also, I used to work in change management, and part of my job was to find companies that were world class or operated differently. The other reason I love this website is I’ve fallen in love with many of the cute icons. Its like hunting for fonts, but more fun.
There are several plans for buying icons.
I went with the all-you-can-eat unlimited plan which was on sale at half price. That was $25 for the first month, repricing at $49 for additional months.
It is completely acceptable to cancel after the first month, and that’s what I’m likely to do, after I finish my project (which requires a few hundred icons).
The flash cards I’m creating with these icons are clean, crisp, and very professional looking. I have no doubt, I’ll sign up again at another time for a subscription or use one of the pay-as-you go packages.
As a subscriber, you can use my Iconfinder promo or coupon code for 50% off any Iconfinder purchase. I’d encourage you to check out the website, and have a play with some of the free icons, and see how they work for your own projects.