Iconfinder designer report Q3 2020

Navigating the icon sea takes courage and precise maps. Do you have what it takes to be a great icon designer? This report helps you build a better icon shop, guided by data from the Iconfinder marketplace.

Monica Matei
The Iconfinder Blog
9 min readJul 6, 2020

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This report contains:

Introduction

Ahoy, icon designer!

You are here because you want to make your icon shop better. The icon world is very competitive but filled with hidden treasures that await you if you work hard.

And we are here to help you on this quest with our experience navigating the wild icon world. We’ll share tips and key data from the Iconfinder marketplace.

Ready for an adventure? Gather your design tools and let’s take to the seas!

Psst! All data in this report is also gathered in this sheet, for easy access.

Most searched keywords

So you want to create icons that sell, eh? First, you have to know what customers are looking for.

Here is a list of the most common keywords that customers used when searching on Iconfinder in one year, ordered from most searched to least.

The most interesting keywords for you are those with a supply-demand ratio lower than 1. These are the ones with fewer icons than searches.

Keywords ordered by the number of searches, from most searches to least (Dates: Jun 1, 2019 to Jun 1 , 2020). Data can be accessed here.

Keywords with unmet demand

To make it easier for you, we selected only those keywords that have a supply-demand ratio lower than 1, and we are sharing them in the list below. These offer opportunities to add more icons because there are fewer icons for those keywords than there are searches.

Keywords with a supply-demand ratio lower than 1, from most searches to least (Dates: Jun 1, 2019 to Jun 1, 2020). Data can be accessed here.

Subsequent searches

You’d better batten down the hatches! These are looong tables we’re looking at here!

Customers refine their searches — this means they first search for one keyword and then switch to another and make a second search. We looked at what these pairs of keywords are in the table below, ordered by most used.

There are 2 types of subsequent searches:

Type 1. Complementary keywords

These are icons that customers want to buy together. For example, “phone” and “email”, or “ download” and “upload”.

Tip: Use these as inspiration for what icons to include in the same icon set or icon family.

Type 2. Synonym keywords

These are keywords that customers use to find the same icon. Some examples are “money” and “cash”, “file” and “document”.

Tip: Use these to tag your icons better.

Subsequent keywords used in searches on Iconfinder ordered by the number of searches, from most to least (Dates: Jun 1, 2019 to Jun 1, 2020). Full data can be accessed here.

To make it easier to use, we re-grouped the subsequent searches by the first search term in the table below.

Subsequent searches, grouped by keyword. (Dates: Jun 1, 2019 to Jun 1, 2020). Full data can be accessed here.

Search trends

Aaargh! To find where the treasure hides, ye got to know the ropes!

Searches on Iconfinder are influenced by events around the world, the most recent being the coronavirus pandemic and ‘Black lives matter’.

The coronavirus-related searches have peaked in March 2020, with around 11.000 searches per month. After that, they have been slowly decreasing to around 5.000 searches in June.

Total unique searches for some corona-related keywords on Iconfinder. Date range: Jan 1, 2020 to Jun 30, 2020

Searches related to the ‘Black lives matter’ movement have started late May 2020 and were peak during the first half of June, with around 35–40 searches on some of the days. Now we see a downwards trend too.

Total unique searches for some ‘Black lives matter’-related keywords on Iconfinder. Date range: May 25, 2020 to Jun 30, 2020

Like these, there are other searches influenced by what is going on in the world, seasonal events, etc. Google Trends is a good place to keep an eye on what the popular searches are at a given time.

Another important thing to know is what are the icons that are demanded in Q3. You’re lucky to have the view from the crow’s nest!

The chart below shows the searches that were popular in Q3 2019, as compared to the previous quarter. It also shows when the searches for these keywords begin to grow. We expect a very similar pattern in 2020.

Tip: Upload seasonal icons some weeks before the customers start searching for them. This helps the icons build up some popularity.

Searches per week for different keywords in Q3 2019

Marketing campaigns in Q3

So you’re an icon designer of action? Here’s some more work for you! Aye, aye!

We plan to launch a “Back to work” campaign late August-beginning of September. For it, we will feature icon sets that are appropriate for such a campaign. It could be a mix of business, UI, school and education, and other beautiful sets that we receive during the summer. It is a good idea to upload sets for the “Back to work” campaign starting from August if you would like to have the chance to be featured.

Popular styles

Savvy? Ye getting sea legs! Yo ho ho!

What are some good icon styles to focus on? The chart below shows how the sales for each style have evolved in the past 4 years, relative to the total sales. The most popular styles are Outline, Glyph, Flat, and Filled Outline. These represent more than 90% of total icon sales.

Percentage of icons sold in each design style over time (Date range: January 1, 2017 to May 31, 2020)

*Note that the data for 2020 only includes January to May sales. This is not a problem because we are looking at relative numbers.

Which styles are growing in sales? Filled outline and Outline styles are the only ones growing in 2020 so far, as compared to 2019. Outline and Glyph styles grew in sales in 2019, as compared to 2019.

Tips:

  • For best sales, draw icons in Outline, Glyph, Filled outline, and Flat styles. Other styles are welcome, though good sales are not guaranteed.
  • Outline style seems to be the one growing steadily. It is a good idea to draw icons in this style.
  • Filled outline style seems to be growing in the first half of 2020. We encourage you to draw icons in this style.
Change in share of icons sold in each design style per year, as compared to the previous period

News from the design world

What did the ocean say to the pirate? Nothing, it just waved.

Apple brings back 3D to icons in MacOS. This can be an opportunity to explore the 3D style more since there could be more demand for it.

A good overview of this design change is made by the article below.

Here is a close-up of the playful style that Apple is bringing back.

App icons for the macOS 11 Big Sur

Check out Apple’s presentation on their new OS.

Iconfinder’s new search (Beta)

So you wanna be an icon seadog? Well, then these are prime news for ye! Aye!

In the last months, we have been working on improving the search engine on Iconfinder. We want to show customers the best icon results for their searches.

Here is a summary of what has changed and what it means to you as a contributor on Iconfinder:

Customers can now include the designer name when searching

It is now possible to type a designer’s name in the search field, together with other keywords. This returns only icons from that designer.

Tips for designers

  • Having good designer names can help customers remember you better. Keep them short, catchy, and easy to spell. You can set a nickname using the “Company name” field in Your account (it will appear on your shop page).
Search results for “iconify dog” using the new search (beta)

Icon set name or family are searchable too

If customers know the name of an icon family, they can include it in the search query. For example, “scenarium money” will return money icons from the Scenarium family by Icojam.

Tips for designers

  • Name your sets well. Make sure your sets have names that are relevant to what the icons represent.
  • Family names are important too. Make them relevant to the icon sets included. Make them easy to spell and to remember.
Search results for “scenarium money” using the new search (beta)

Misspellings in search are now corrected

For example, search for “ipohne” becomes “iphone”. “twiter” becomes “twitter” and so on.

Tips for designers

  • Check your tags for misspellings.

Having good tags is very important

This is not new. Having good and relevant tags is as important as having good icons. Good tagging helps your icons be found in the right searches.

Tips for designers

  • Spend time on tagging well. Make sure your tags are relevant to what the icon represents. Keep your tags between 3 and 7 (Having 1–2 tags is ok, but not ideal. 8 or more tags will lower the rank of your icons in the search results). Check our tagging guidelines.

Future changes

These are the things we will work on next.

  • Style search. It will be possible to search in styles using, for example, “outline car” to only get car icons that are outline style.
  • License search. Customers will be able to type in the license name together with the keyword. For example, “book creative commons”.
  • Negative keywords for making the searches more specific. Let’s say customers are looking for computer mouse icons. They could search for “mouse -animal”, to filter out the cute little hairy versions. Or, if customers want camera icons, but no Instagram logos, they can search for “camera -instagram”.
  • Designers, icon sets, and icon families as search results. At the moment, only icons show up in the search results.

How to try the new search

You can try out the new search by opting in to the Beta version: https://www.iconfinder.com/beta-program/. If you have questions or comments, join the discussion on our Designer Community Forum.

New policies & guidelines for content

Aye, we gotta keep this boat clean too! It’s the stuff that really boring dreams are made of. Aarrrghh!

In order to keep our icons relevant, fresh, and accessible, we have defined a series of new policies and guidelines. Make sure to follow them when creating new icons.

1. Offensive content

We have new rules to avoid getting offensive content on Iconfinder. This means icons that are demeaning, vulgar, racist, unnecessarily violent, depicting abuse, and similar themes. Read about what we consider as offensive content.

2. Explicit content

To allow for more sensitive accessibility and underage use, an explicit label will be implemented for icons that are of adult nature, and not suitable for educational or workplace use. Customers will be able to choose if they want to see explicit icon results in their searches. Read about the explicit label.

3. Logo & Trademark policy

In most cases, icons that contain a trademark must be offered for free. Check the details of the new logo & trademark policy.

4. Rest mode

Icon sets that are underperforming will be given a well-deserved rest 🛌 . These are sets that either look outdated, or are low quality, or do not meet any demand. These sets can still be found in the designer’s shop, but they will no longer be shown in the search results. Read about the rest mode.

5. Tagging guidelines

We have updated the guidelines for how to tag your icons optimally. Follow these recommendations when tagging your icons.

If you have any questions or concerns about the new policies and guidelines, join the discussion on our Designer Community Forum.

You are now ready to sail the wild icon seas with sharper navigation tools! We will meet again in faraway ports where the winds carry our sails! Until then!

This report is part of a series that is released every quarter. It crunches data on supply and demand on the Iconfinder marketplace, hoping to lead designers to create the right icons.

All data shared in this report is also gathered in this sheet, for easy access. Icons featured here are from the Pirate Flat set, designed by Maxicons.

Drop us a message at support@iconfinder.com if you have any questions or feedback.

Are you interested in becoming a contributor on Iconfinder? This is the place to start: How to sell icons on Iconfinder

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