I don't have a
favicon.ico. I noticed that many visitors repeatedly request it. Should I just put a blank GIF or ICO file?
Thanks for the input. But I have one question that no one answered: should I use an animated favicon?
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Why don't you just create a small icon that suits your web site and use that? It's trivial to do. Most modern browsers look for this file. I haven't tried it myself, but Googling, I found the website favicon.ico Generator that presents a simple image editor interface.
You don't, of course, need to do this. It just gives a web site a little bit more personality and recognizability. I suppose you could do as you suggest and put up a blank icon file, but if you'll go to that much trouble, you should just put up a real one.
smashing magazine (online) has several articles on favicons:
While not required, favicons will often be requested by modern browsers
to add some eye-candy to the location bar, table labels, and bookmarks.
Once you are inspired by the examples from the link above,
you can try using an online generator to build your own:
(look down the page for favicon generators).
I found the following one pretty nice:
While not required, having a favicon.ico will improve the user's experience on your webpage. Most modern browers request one, and not having one requires your server to generate a 404 error and send this back to the browser. 404 errors can degrade the user performance because of how slow they are.
I had this clogging up the Apache logs and wanted to clear it out. For one of my websites, I created a valid favicon.ico. For the rest of my virtual hosts, I simply "touch favicon.ico" and created an empty one [Note: Apache running on Linux]. No more errors in the error logs.
I thought about the waste of resources, but only for a short time. If I provided a real favicon.ico, then I would be transferring a lot of bytes very frequently. If I provided nothing, I would be sending back a 404 response. Sending back a zero length file appears to me to be the least waste of resources and bandwidth. And my error logs are clear of a spurious problem, so I can focus on real problems with my webserver.
Most sites have a favicon to leave an impression on visitors. It's not needed, but helps distinguish from other sites (say in your bookmarks or something similar). Here's another site for favicon generation: http://www.favicongenerator.com/