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Yes 100% put your icons in an include file of svg defs.

There are a number of tools that will optimize svg files for size like svgo. Output straight from Illustrator, for example, has a lot room for improvement. I also usually end up hand-tweaking for things like removing the full style and doing that in my site's CSS.

What I think is really still needed are more options besides Illustrator for generating svg content. Yes, Inkscape is overall ok but is lacking in setup ease and genera speed.

There a number of programs that are so close to doing what is needed and then won't save or export an svg. Pixelmater, looking at you.

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