Image Format Basics for Your Website
When designing a website it’s important to include graphics and images to support your brand and content, grab attention and keep engagement. However, the type of image is important to consider to keep a website running smoothly. The slower a website runs, the more likely visitors are to click away. In total, there are five different types of images: JPG, Webp, PNG, GIF, and SVG. All have strengths and weaknesses that are important to consider when building a website.
Pixel vs Vector-Based Image Formats
If you’re completely new to image processing, here are some basics to consider. First, there are two different types of images: pixel and vector-based. Pixel images are made up of millions of miniature pixels that form an image. When you zoom into a pixel-based image, you can see the pixels that make it up. The number of pixels determines the size of the image.
Vector images are all math based which means everything in the image is a series of instructions that a code gives to create it. Since there are no pixels, it doesn’t matter how much you zoom into an image, it’ll still have the same, crisp lines. Vector images are thus easily scalable, but hard for images that may use gradients or are photos. Vector images are good for their size, as most of the time, they’re not as big as pixel images; this makes vector images perfect for logos and flat graphics/illustrations. There is such an emphasis on how big a photo’s size is because every time a photo is used on a website, it needs to be downloaded. Even on fast wifi, downloading multiple large-sized images takes time and slows your website down. Utilizing the proper formats for images can go a long way in saving your website’s load time.
What is a JPG (or JPEG)?
A JPG (which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a pixel-based image. JPGs work by combining clusters of pixels in the photos and blending them into other clusters. This is due to the compression being lossy, so the proper resolution and amount of compression depend on how much of the image appearance you’d like to preserve. With this, the size of your photo can be compressed without losing much of what is in it. JPGs are best for photos as they maintain most of the details within them through a smooth blending process.
PNGs (Portable Network Graphics) are another pixel-based image. PNGs are typically used when a photo has a transparent background. Not only this, but the compression style within a PNG image doesn’t lose any of the pixels on the screen. This is great for images that you don’t want to be smoothed over as they would in a JPG. PNGs are typically used for logos and any image with transparency and/or text in it. Because PNGs don’t lose any of the pixels, they do take up more space usually compared to a JPG.
GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) are the predecessor for PNG images. Because of that, GIFs have limitations that PNGs do not. The biggest one is that GIFs can only come in 256 colors while PNGs can handle 16 million colors. However, compared to PNGs, GIFs support animations while still being a small image size. This is great for keeping users engaged or highlighting something you’d like to demonstrate to a website’s user. One of the biggest things a GIF can be used for is calling users to specific actions such as clicking a button or displaying how something is done.
SVGs (Scalable Vectors Graphics). SVGs are vector graphics. As mentioned before, vector graphics are amazing for retaining crisp lines no matter how large you scale the image. SVGs are best for logos but are harder to use for gradient works or pictures. Their image size is also typically smaller than pixel-based graphics as it’s math based rather than pixel.
All of these image types have their own strengths and weaknesses that can enhance the look of any website. By keeping in mind how each one best functions, you’ll be able to make a beautiful website that runs smoothly!