Pinned Sites in Windows 8

The Icon Handbook has a whole chapter devoted to creating Favicons, and the various options you can provide for different contexts, but with the subsequent release of Microsoft’s new OS, Windows 8, there’s another big one for the list! In Windows 7, websites could be ‘pinned’ to the taskbar (which used a 32px resource in the favicon.ico file) but now they can also be pinned to to the start screen, having a special Windows 8 ‘tile’ of their own.

Pinned Site in IE8 without provided imageIf you don’t provide your own tile image, the OS will simply use a light grey version of the IE logo (see right).

However, specifying an image is straightforward, and thankfully doesn’t interfere with any other favicons you may have linked to in the <head> of your page. All you need is a 144×144px transparent PNG, and a background colour for the tile, served via meta tags:

<meta name="msapplication-TileImage" content=“pinned.png”>
<meta name="msapplication-TileColor" content="#ef0303”>

Note that the PNG doesn’t have to be transparent, but it doesn’t cover the whole tile. A square start screen tile is 150×150px, so the 144px square PNG only occupies the top centre area. The best approach is: specify an image for the centre, and background colour in HEX, RGB or CSS named values. If a colour isn’t specified, IE will take the most prominent colour from your site.

IE will take the <title> attribute for tile label, but if you want to provide a shortened tile-friendly title, you can use a meta tag, for example:

<title>Hicksdesign: Design for Print, New-Fangled Media and other wobbly bits</title>
<meta name="application-name" content=“Hicksdesign”>

The PNG doesnt cover the whole tileFinal thing to watch out for: if you fill the entire 144px area, it won’t look vertically centred on the start tile. Sites like BBC News have got around this by leaving the top 56px as whitespace (see right – where the area the PNG covers has been highlighted). The image then looks balanced on the tile!

If you want to delve further into implications of Windows 8 for websites, I can highly recommend this excellent post on the Breaking the Mobile Web Blog. You can also add badge notifications.

The Hickensian is the journal of Jon Hicks, one half of the creative partnership Hicksdesign. Take a look at the work we do.

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