Simple SVG Icon System Using

I won’t go into detail why an SVG icon system based on symbols is a good choice for your icons, because there are plenty of great articles out there. I will just give you an overview of our solution at and show you a tiny Grunt plugin called grunt-svg-symbols, which creates a bunch of SVG icon systems from as many folders full of icons as you like.

The SVG icons we receive from our designers come from both Sketch and Illustrator. The only specification I give them is to center the icons in a rectangle and to make sure that the icons have the same visual weight when shown side by side. I then usually set all fill and stroke attributes to currentColor, as the icons are almost always monochrome. This way the SVG icon system behaves in much the same way as the icon font our developers are used to.

The Grunt configuration is really simple and allows us to specify lots of smaller icon sets, which can be inlined on landing pages for improved performance.

    svg_symbols: {
        options: {
            precision: 1,
            className: 'u-hidden',
            width: 24,
            height: 24
        files: {
            'icons/auth.svg': ['svg/auth/*.svg'],
            'icons/benefits.svg': ['svg/benefits/*.svg']

The precision options tells SVGO to round to a given number of places after the decimal separator. SVGO also strips all the unessential extra markup from Sketch and Illustrator, resulting in an SVG icon system that is clean, optimized and lightweight.

<svg class="u-hidden">
    <symbol id="mail" viewBox="0 0 24 24">
        <path d="M77.766 17.152..."/>
    <symbol id="lock" viewBox="0 0 24 24">
        <path d="M61.05 35.833..."/>

Symbols can then be referenced by using the xlink:href attribute, which works with inlined as well as referenced files.

    <use xlink:href="#mail"></use>
    <use xlink:href="icons/auth.svg#lock"></use>

If you would like to give me your feedback you can do so on the GitHub repository page of the grunt-svg-symbols plugin. And just install it via npm, if you want to use it.

You can support via PayPal and buy me a 🍺 or a cup o’ joe.

Manuel Wieser, BSc MA

I’m an experienced front-end developer and lead developer for cross-functional Scrum/Kanban teams. I’ve recently transitioned to engineering management, trying to make everyone on my team an even better developer than myself.

You can contact me via GitHub, Twitter or [email protected].

I’m currently working as the Head of Front-End Development for in Linz, making software that helps people find the job of their dreams.