Using the appropriate image formats on a website is necessary for web designers and developers during the process. Indeed, the use of high-quality images can increase the credibility of what you are showing online. However, if you use large-size assets on your website, you might compromise with the loading speed of your website. So, it becomes paramount for all web designers & developers to use images or other assets like GIFs & animations using a suitable format. For that, you need to consider an image format that delivers high quality even with a small size.
In general, we see that the popular choices of image formats are JPEG, PNG, SVG, GIF, etc. With these formats, it is generally seen that if you want to compress the size of the image you are using, there are chances that the quality of the image will also decrease. To solve this issue, Google came up with the webp image file format as a replacement to the other types. With this file format, web enthusiasts were able to use smaller files with the same quality or higher quality for the same size on their websites.
What is WebP? And why is it unique?
WebP is a leading web image format that supports both lossy & lossless compressions along with animations & alpha transparency. Today, a terrific technology war is going on among various file formats to become better than others. In this war, WebP has attracted significant interest from the stakeholders and is becoming a leader in the competition leaving behind some most popular file formats like JPEG.
The one thing that makes WebP unique from all other file formats is its compression properties. Compression, in simple terms, is encoding a file’s data into lesser bits than the original. There are two types of compression processes; lossless and lossy.
In lossless compression, the quality of an image remains the same when you decrease the data size. Whereas in lossy compression, there is a slight decrease in the quality of an image with a significant data size reduction.
Due to its compression capabilities, the WebP file format lets you keep images with smaller sizes and better quality when compared to its counterparts. Consequently, websites with WebP images usually run faster than those with other image files. In addition, it also reduces data storage, saving your money. In a standard comparison, Google says that WebP lossless compression is 26% smaller than PNG format. And its lossy compression is around 25-34% smaller than JPEG files. So it turns out to be a crucial factor in keeping your website lighter & faster with the same quality of images.
Even though the WebP file format is younger than its counterparts, there are several benefits of using it instead of other image files on a website. Let’s discuss them in detail.
Benefits of using WebP files
Faster loading time:
Web pages with WebP images load faster due to their smaller size. And we all know how important website speed is for a good user experience. According to a report, a delay of a second in loading a page reduces visitor satisfaction by 16%. And one in every four visitors will abandon your site if it doesn’t load in 4 seconds.
Less media storage:
It compressions result in less storage space. But it may not be so impactful for smaller websites. However, websites with more images can save a lot of space and money on web hosting services by using smaller images of WebP format.
Transparency & animations:
WebP files are capable of supporting transparent backgrounds of PNG files. They also possess the animation capabilities of GIF files.
With these valuable benefits, WebP does have some shortcomings also. The main problem with these file format is that all web browsers do not support it. Although many browsers are compatible with WebP, the browsers like Internet Explorer still lack loading WebP files quickly. Besides, the picture quality reduces marginally. However, this difference is too small to visualize.
It has become a leading picture file format. While other formats like SVG and PNG are also relevant in many situations, you need to understand where WebP can be a better choice and where not. For that, let’s discuss how WebP distinguishes itself from SVG and PNG files.
WebP vs SVG
SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based vector file. You can resize Free SVG icons easily without any loss of quality. SVGs become crucial when we talk about the device responsiveness of a website. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use logo or icon as SVGs. With them, users see crisp images irrespective of their screen sizes. In addition to that, you do not need to add extra HTML/CSS code for SVG files. Therefore, if you are using SVG files, you can be sure that they will look great on any device, browser, or screen.
The use of WebP files becomes more beneficial for you as they support both lossy & lossless compressions. Furthermore, unlike SVGs, which only support lossless compressions, you can frequently use WebP images on different websites and applications.
WebP images become more suitable for high-traffic websites. For instance, if you use Google Chrome and open YouTube on it, you will find all the thumbnails in WebP format. Likewise, all the images in the Facebook app on your android phone are also WebP images. So it’s evident that many big companies use WebP images on their websites instead of SVG images.
WebP vs PNG
After its launch in 1997, PNG became a standard file format to use in web designs. Even today, PNG is probably the most used image format in the market. It not only has proven to be a go-to image format for low-traffic websites, but it also has performed well for high-traffic websites. With PNG, you get a critical web design element – transparency; that lets you structure images that don’t conflict with each other and retain a consistent design on your website.
When we talk about WebP, it also supports transparency. But over PNG, WebP file has significantly smaller sizes with the same picture quality. Due to the small file size, WebP loads faster than PNG images. Besides, WebP images load faster for Chrome and Opera users as it is structured to load the image with the smallest file size at the time. So you can exploit this advantage to your benefit.
After discussing all the benefits of WebP, it seems that this should be the leading image format in the market. However, it is not. A big hurdle keeps WebP from taking over PNG, SVG, JPEG, and GIF structures. It is the compatibility of WebP to different browsers.
The vector image format (SVG) is one of the most suitable formats for all free SVG icons that support complete responsiveness. You can find them crisp on every screen size with compatibility to most web browsers. Even PNG is an old format that fits nicely with almost all major web browsers.
WebP is comparatively a new technology that needs to be compatible with all browsers like Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. However, if it is successful in doing so, it won’t be long before we see WebP files leading the market comfortably.