Here’s a new take on icon fonts for the web: Symbolset. Symbolsets are semantic symbol fonts that replace words with icons via OpenType ligature support. For instance, a word like “cart” will be replaced by an icon of a shopping cart. The text remains intact under the hood because it’s in your markup, but browsers that support OpenType features will use the icon instead. You can play with a live demo over at the site to see what I mean.
This is a great bit of progressive enhancement to try out that’s not only semantic but inherently accessible. Symbolset is lovingly made by some of our Studiomates at Oak, and they have plans to release new sets in different styles and provide font hosting in the future.
On a side note, these are some really tightly designed icons. I’ve tried lots of vector icon libraries—I find them useful for quick comping or starting points for creating new icons. Many can be a little sloppy, either not optimized for whole number sizing or full of stray vector work. But, Symbolset icons are solidly handcrafted to work at a variety of common sizes.
Right now you can pick up the Standard and Social sets for a steal (complete with web-ready versions for you to use on your site), and I highly recommend them.