Meet the new icon search engine

While the world was turning upside down these past six months, the Iconfinder team went through two big challenges. First, we went fully-remote. And second, we worked hard to completely rewrite the very core of our product — the search engine 🔍

I am truly excited to walk you through some of the improvements we have just launched 💪

10x faster 🚀

It is no surprise that the speed of the search is a crucial metric for us. We measure the time from the moment you hit “search” to the moment you see the results. With this release, the median response time went down from 75 ms to 10 ms, and 95% of all searches are now performed in 30 ms or faster. Previously 95% of searches were completed in 934 ms. On average, the searches are approximately 10 times faster.

More relevant results 🏅

With this release, a range of problems has been solved. The old search had trouble with special characters such as -, +, @, and so on. But often, those characters were important, for example, when searching for e-mail or 24/7. These searches now work.

Multi-word searches are handled better

When searching for multiple words, the results are now narrowed down. So instead of both returning “santa” and “hat” icons for “santa hat”, we now only return icons that match both words. This gives fewer results but filters out a lot of noise.

Newer downloads count more

Downloads is the most important signal for sorting icons. We’ve now split downloads up in multiple buckets so we can give a boost to icons that were downloaded more recently. That way search results will adapt to trends quicker, and new popular icons will rank higher.

Featured icons get a boost

The content team at Iconfinder picks out the best new icons and features them. These show up on the homepage and a few other places. Now featured icons will also receive a boost in search results. We have even added a new filter that lets you search only in featured icons (they are sooo pretty).

You can now click a filter that will include featured content only.

Older icons are removed

With almost 5 million icons, it’s impossible not to have a few bad ones here and there. The new “rest mode” feature, some icons will be removed from search results. It could be that their drawing style does not live up to today’s standard. Even if hidden from search results, they will remain on the site, so you can still download them if you have them bookmarked.

Matching on other things than tags 🕵

To make the search experience more natural, we also search in other things than tags now. If you know the name of your favorite designer or icon set, you can directly add that to a search query. For example, “laura reen folder” or “icojam cat” will now give meaningful results.

The same goes for styles (e.g. “facebook outline”) and price (“computer free”).

Sorting results 🔃

When searching, you’ll now find a dropdown that controls the sorting of results. You can sort by relevance, newest first, and four different ranges of downloads.

The sorting dropdown is found in the top right corner above the search results.

We are currently fixing some bugs that affect sorting by download ranges. As a result, these sorting options are temporarily unavailable.

Spell-checking 🚧

Searching with text also leads to misspellings or merely hitting the keys in the wrong order. The search engine looks at how many letters it needs to remove or replace to get a match. So a search for “faceboko” needs 2 changes to reach “facebook”. The search for “faceboko” won’t give any results, so instead of showing no results and a message about the misspelling, we immediately redirect you to the “facebook” results. You might know this from Google.

Design changes 🎨

We’ve kept the overall design that you are familiar with. However, there are several subtle design changes. We are trying to highlight many of the new features, so you know what the search engine is doing. For example, you will find some “bubbles” in the search field that allow you to search inside an icon set only.

Check out the settings menu. From there, you will be able to change the background color, preview size, toggle displaying tags under icons, and enable Safe search.

Safe search 🚫🍆

Safe search is a way for you to feel comfortable searching for icons in a work setting or if children are around. Explicit icons are labeled with a small E icon. You can read more about Safe search and the explicit label here:

Coming soon ⏳

Some features didn’t make it in this release, but we are working on them now. These include:

  • Searching for icon sets and designers
  • Searching in downloads and collections
  • Filtering icons based on editable strokes

Thanks so much for your support, and please let us know what you think of these new features. You can comment under this post or write to contact@iconfinder.com.

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A blog about icons, illustrations, design and designers

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Martin LeBlanc

Martin LeBlanc

Founder+CEO of @iconfinder, co-organizer of the @forgecph conference and @dribbble meetups

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