Understanding Website Image File Formats: Which should you use? (2024)

Images play a crucial role in creating a fantastic UX for your website audience. However, the sheer volume of website image file formats is enough to spin any person’s head. Throw in the acronyms, and things become a blur.

What’s more, how do you know the image format to use on certain sections of your website? Can you also use these image formats interchangeably? See, it can get complicated, but it’s not impossible to get the hang of it.

In this guide, we help you see things a little clearer with an overview of image file format types and where to use each.

Let’s dive in.

Does it Matter What Type of Image Format You Use on a Website?

Yes, it does. Image formats affect aspects like the performance and speed of your website. For instance, some image formats have a large file size, making your website slow and clunky. On the other hand, using the correct image format ensures that your site is fast, which has a high impact on website conversion rates.

Also, some file formats are more scalable than others. Scalability is the ability to shrink or stretch an image to ensure an image is responsive on all screen sizes. By choosing a scalable image format, you create a wonderful UX for your audience, despite their screen size.

The Two Types of Image Files

We can categorise images into two primary image files:

  • Raster image files
  • Vector image files

Raster Image Files

Raster images are made of individual blocks and a series of pixels( tiny dots). These tiny dots contain different tones and colours, which come together to form an image. Raster images are mostly seen on websites or print and are created by scanning or photographing an object.

Because they are made up of pixels, raster images are resolution based. This means that stretching a raster image without adjusting the resolution results in a lower quality image.

Examples of raster images would be PNGs, JPEGs, and GIFs.

Vector Image files

Vector images are made up of paths. In other words, these images are created through mathematical formulas and geometric shapes such as curves, lines, polygons and points.

Because they rely on algorithms instead of pixels, scaling vector image files does not affect the quality or file size. Also, vector images are independent of a screen’s resolution. This means that they’ll be rendered as intended despite the resolution of a screen.

Examples of vector images include SVGs, PDFs, AI and EPS. Vectors are a perfect match for brand graphics and logos since you can resize them frequently to fit use.

Popular Image Formats Used By Websites


JPEG image format is the most commonly used format on the web. The JPEG image format was developed in 1986 by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, hence the acronym. This image format works best for natural photographs since JPEGs support a wide variety of colours, tones, and gradients. JPEG is also a high-quality image format making it ideal for the web. However, JPEGs are a lossy format that loses quality when resized or compressed.

Another reason why JPEG image format is popular on the web is that JPEGs have universal support. They also have a small file size which translates to fast loading images and, ultimately, a fast website. While they work great for complex images, JPEGs are not suited for images with only a few colours, such as interface screenshots and computer-generated images.

Overall, JPEGs are mostly a reliable choice for website images. However, they are not suitable for all images. For example, a JPEG image format does not support a transparent background— PNG format works better in this case.

2. PNG

Portable Networks Graphics (PNG) is also a popular image format for websites. PNGs are lossless, meaning that you can resize or compress them without losing quality. When compared to a JPEG image, the PNG image format retains a better quality after compression.

However, PNGs are not suitable for photographs or images with complex colours. They are better used for images with rapid colour transitions, such as an interface screenshot. PNGs also support a transparent background in images, making them ideal for brand imagery and logos.

Like JPEGS, PNGs have universal support, which is an excellent option for your website’s logo.

3. WebP

The web picture (WebP) format is a newer kid to the game, unlike JPEG, PNG and GIFs, which have existed for longer. WebP was developed by Google in 2010 and has steadily gained popularity in website design.

One reason for the continuous uptake of WebP image file format is its ability to support lossy and lossless compression. When working with WebP image formats, you can significantly reduce the file size of images without losing the image quality. This takes the load off your website servers, resulting in a faster website and a great UX for your readers.

Is WebP better than JPEG and PNG? Not in all instances. However, WebP has a 50% smaller file size than PNG and 35% compared to JPEG. You can also use WebP for animated images as the format has greater support for higher transparency, colour depth and animated frames.

The biggest drawback of WebP image file format is limited browser support. WebP is also incompatible with some popular content management systems, forcing you to use a plugin or involve coding. That said, WebP can be an excellent choice if you want a fast-loading website without sacrificing image quality.

3. SVG

Scalable Vector Graphics is a vector image file format developed by the World Wide Web consortium. Like all vector images, you can scale SVG and still maintain image quality. This image format is best used for simple illustrations, icons and logos.

Like PNGs and JPEGs, SVG formats enjoy universal browser support. The SVG image format also has a small file size and is overall a good choice if you want compression capability while retaining image quality.

However, not all CMS support SVGs. But in this day and age, you can easily find a workaround with plugins.

4. GIF

Graphics Interchange Format is one of the web’s most common animated image formats. As previously mentioned, it falls under Raster image files. What’s more, the GIF image format has universal browser support, making it a good format for your website’s animated images.

GIFs operate on a lossless compression model but support fewer colours, 256 to be exact. For this reason, it’s better not to use GIFs for static images. GIFs result in larger file size and a low-quality image if used in static form. Since animated GIFs have a larger file size, it’s better to use them sparingly to ensure that your website loads quickly.

Less Common Website Image File Formats

While JPEG, PNG and GIF are the most common image formats used on the web, they are not the only web-compatible formats.


In the most basic explanation, the APNG image file format is an animated PNG. Animated Portable Graphics(APNG) work like GIFs but support transparency and 24-bit images. (GIF only supports 8-bit images.) They also have smaller file sizes and are of higher quality. However, APNG has limited browser support, so they are not always ideal for website use.


AVIF is a newer image format initially developed to transmit video over the internet. This image format has higher-level lossy compression than JPEG, WebP and PNG. Case in point: AVIF lossy images are usually 50% smaller when compared to JPEG.

AVIF image formats also support lossless compression and alpha channel.

Like APNG, AVIF image file formats have limited support. For instance, they are currently only supported on Chrome, Android and Firefox. You can still use it on your website, but you’ll need a fallback image format for unsupported browsers.

When to Use Each Image File Format

The type of image format you use will depend on the purpose of an image. For instance, JPEG will work well for images with complex colours, gradients and tones. Images containing physical product photos and stock images may be better served in JPEG formats.

On the other hand, screenshots and images with fewer colours or more colour transitions are better served in PNG formats. You can also use the PNG format for your logo, brand images, infographics and banners.

GIFs will be great when you need to make short illustrations that don’t require a full video. They are also a nice way to add humour to your blog posts and showcase some personality. However, refrain from using GIF format for static images.

Wrap Up

Knowing the right website image file formats to use is only half the battle. You must fulfil the other half by creating high-quality images and optimising them for SEO and user experience. When in doubt, use JPEGs for photos, PNGs for screenshots and GIFs for short animations.

However, if you need further help with your Mobile Responsive Web Design website’s image formats, don’t hesitate to contact PixelFish. We would love to help you create a website that your audience and search engines love. Contact us to find out how we can get started.

Take your business to the next level with a Pixel Fish Website.

Check out some of our latest Website Design projects.

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Understanding Website Image File Formats: Which should you use? (2024)


Understanding Website Image File Formats: Which should you use? ›

Choosing the best image file format depends on the type of image and the end goal. Photos should use a JPG file format whereas logos and simple illustrations should use PNG or SVG files. Keep in mind, JPG and PNGs can also have the same quality and smaller file size with the lesser-known format, WebP.

Which image file formats are best for web use? ›

Webp is the best format for web.

JPG and PNG are also good choices for the web. If your choice is between JPG or PNG, use JPG for photos and PNG for logos. That's because a JPG is better compressed and loads faster, whereas a PNG will retain more detail and allows for a transparent background.

What are the 3 common image file formats used for web? ›

There are three file formats for graphics used on the web: JPG, GIF, and PNG.

Should I use PNG or JPEG on my website? ›

Regular Pictures

And while the graphics and the images with letters are usually better-looking in the . png file, with the regular photos, JPG is a better choice for the web because if the smaller size. If you decide to use PNGs only, they will slow your website which can lead to frustrated users.

What file format should you not use for website photos? ›

Don't use a PNG when…

You're working with photos or artwork. Thanks to PNGs' high color depth, the format can easily handle high resolution photos. However, because it is a lossless web format, file sizes tend to get very large. If you're working with photos on the web, go with JPEG.

Is TIFF or JPEG better for web? ›

JPEG works better as a finalized image ready for export, like when you need to email a client or post a picture to your website. Compared to TIFFs, JPEGs don't store as much image data, which means they don't offer as much flexibility in the editing process.

What are the 4 main image formats use in the web? ›

Common image formats used on the web: JPEG, PNG, WebP, SVG and GIF.

What is the difference between JPEG and WebP? ›

What's the difference between WebP and JPEG files? Both file types compress images to make them easier to share and store. However, a WebP file is generally much smaller than a traditional JPEG. Google's developers suggest that a WebP image with lossy compression could be 25% to 34% smaller than a comparable JPEG file.

What is the best image size for a website? ›

Best image size for websites

Pixel width: 2500 pixels is perfect for stretching full-screen across a browser in most cases. Any image smaller than that might get cut off or appear blurry if it needs to fill the browser width.

What is the highest quality image? ›

This is the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of a work of art. It is 717 gigapixels, or 717,000,000,000 pixels, in size. The distance between two pixels is 5 micrometres (0.005 millimetre), which means that one pixel is smaller than a human red blood cell.

Is PNG better than JPEG for SEO? ›

Choose The Right Format

PNG: Produces better quality images, but comes with a larger file size. JPEG: You may lose image quality, but you can adjust the quality level to find a good balance. WebP: Choose lossless or lossy compression using this, the only image format supported by both Chrome and Firefox.

What is the best PNG size for website? ›

The optimal file size for images on a website is no more than 200 KB, and for full-screen background images, between 1500 pixels to 2500 pixels wide, and for most other images a max-width of 800 pixels. Keeping images between these perimeters will ensure they load properly on computers and mobile screens.

Why does PNG look better than JPEG? ›

The biggest advantage of PNG over JPEG is that the compression is lossless, meaning there is no loss in quality each time it is opened and saved again. PNG also handles detailed, high-contrast images well.

How do I format an image for a website? ›

  1. Start with high-quality images. ...
  2. Use the right file type: JPEG or PNG. ...
  3. Resize images to optimize page speed and appearance. ...
  4. Make images the same size and style. ...
  5. Name the image file correctly to help your SEO. ...
  6. Fill out your captions and alternative text. ...
  7. Put the image near relevant text.
Feb 21, 2019

Is TIFF good for websites? ›

Both PNGs and TIFFs are excellent choices for displaying complex images. But PNGs tend to be smaller in size, so are potentially better suited for websites. TIFFs, on the other hand, are often the best choice for professional use, scanning and print options.

Is TIFF normally used on the web? ›

TIFFs are not typically supported by web browsers

Web browsers do not typically support the TIFF file format. In order to view a TIFF file in a web browser, it must first be converted to another file format, such as JPEG or PNG.

What is the best image format for WordPress? ›

File Format JPEG or PNG – Optimize Images for WordPress

The best formats for websites are JPEG and PNG. Use a JPEG for photographs as they have a high color count. This format uses special compression to reduce file size while not affecting the clarity of the image.

What image file type has no background? ›

A PNG is an image file type that allows you to have no background color. Most images cover a certain number of pixels and have color in all of those pixels, even if that color is white. A transparent background has nothing in the background pixels, allowing what's behind it to show through.

Should I convert my images to WebP? ›

Using WebP, webmasters and web developers can create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs. WebP lossy images are 25-34% smaller than comparable JPEG images at equivalent SSIM quality index.

Should I convert all my images to WebP? ›

WebP is a broadly supported compressed image format that is becoming more common across the web. Storing your images as `webp` can reduce the size of your web pages, while still maintaining the image quality you need. The image size savings can be pretty significant, meaning your pages will load a lot faster.

Should I convert WebP to JPG? ›

Converting WebP images to JPG files means you can take your high-res website photos, download them for offline use, and ensure you won't lose quality and that they're compatible with other devices.

How do I optimize an image for the web without losing quality? ›

Optimizing Images & Photos: A Quick Guide
  1. Start with good photos. ...
  2. Showcase your products with multiple angles. ...
  3. Use a white background for your products. ...
  4. Save your images with the right dimensions. ...
  5. Improve page load speeds by using the correct image format. ...
  6. Experiment with quality settings.

What is the most common image file type? ›


JPEG files are very common on the Internet and JPEG is a popular format for digital cameras - making it ideal for web use and non-professional prints.

What is the most common screen size for website design? ›

Design for desktop displays from 1280×720 through 1920×1080. Design for mobile displays from 360×640 through 414×896. Design for tablet displays from 601×962 through 1280×800. Check Google Analytics and optimise for your target audience's most common resolution sizes.

How can I tell if an image is high resolution? ›

Anything 300 PPI or over is usually considered to be high resolution. DPI –Dots Per Inch, is a measurement to determine the resolution of an image for printing. High resolution values for DPI are also generally considered to be 300 DPI or over.

What is the best format to save an image? ›

JPEG is a compressed photo format that can make photos smaller for sharing. Saving as JPEG merges adjustment layers and other edits into a single layer and does not retain transparency. PNG is another format that can be posted online. Save as PNG to retain areas that are transparent, like a background you removed.

What type of file is highest quality? ›

Best lossless image formats.

The best lossless image formats include GIF, PNG, TIFF, and BMP. These file types can be edited or compressed without impacting your image quality, although they may have lower resolutions.

What image format is best for website SEO? ›

Use supported image formats

Google Images supports images in the following formats: BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG. It's also a good idea to have the extension of your filename match with the file type.

What is the best image format for website speed? ›

Image format

WebP is usually the most efficient of all web image formats. File size is typically 25-50% smaller than JPEG while keeping the same quality. It supports transparency and alpha too, so is a great alternative to PNG for faster image loading.

What is the recommended image file size for SEO? ›

What's the ideal image file size? A file size below 70 kb is what you should be targeting. In case of heavy files closer to 300 kb, the best you can achieve is a 100 kb file size.

Should I use PNG 8 or 24 for web? ›

PNG-8 refers to palette variant, which supports only 256 colors, but is usually smaller in size. PNG-8 can be a GIF substitute. PNG-24 refers to true color variant, which supports more colors, but might be bigger. PNG-24 can be used instead of JPEG, if lossless image format is needed.

Should I save for web PNG 8 or 24? ›

For most images, PNG 24 is a better format to choose than PNG 8. But there are some situations in which PNG 8 is more useful than PNG 24, such as for images that need to be displayed on the Internet where file size is an issue.

Can you use PNG images on websites? ›

Portable Network Graphics (PNGs) are just as popular as JPEGs for display on websites. They also support millions of colors, although you're much better off using PNGs for images that contain less color data.

When should you use PNG? ›

Portable Network Graphics files (PNGs) are compressible and like JPEGS, can handle 16 million colors. They're mostly used for web graphics, logos, charts, and illustrations, rather than high-quality photographs, because they take up more storage space than JPEGs.

Do you lose quality converting PNG to JPG? ›

PNG files are in nature lossless which means the quality of the image stays almost unalterable when the file is compressed. JPG files are of lossy compression- in other words, when you compress a JPG file it loses quality which cannot be restored.

Should I use JPG or PNG? ›

The general rule is to use JPGs for photographs, images that don't have a transparent background, and other memory intensive files. And to choose PNGs for graphics, files with transparent backgrounds, and other images where clarity and color vibrancy are important.

Is it legal to use Google Images on a website? ›

The short answer is No, you cannot use pictures that you find on Google on your blog or website. There are a couple of different options for finding pictures for your posts online. If you do search on Google for images, it's important to ask for permission before using them in a post.

Which images can I use on my website? ›

Photos that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright, have no limitations on use, and no fees for any type of usage. Images in the public domain include most photographs that are more than 100 years old, and any photo produced by a government or government agency.

Can someone use my picture on their website without my permission? ›

Photographs, illustrations and other images will generally be protected by copyright as artistic works. This means that a user will usually need the permission of the copyright owner(s) if they want to perform certain acts, such as copying the image or sharing it on the internet.

What 3 main types of images are used in HTML Web pages? ›

There are three file formats for graphics used on the web: JPG, GIF, and PNG.

How do I optimize a JPEG for my website? ›

Optimize as JPEG

JPEG is the standard format for compressing photographs. Open an image and choose File > Save For Web. Choose JPEG from the optimization format menu. To optimize to a specific file size, click the arrow to the right of the Preset menu, and then click Optimize To File Size.

Is PNG better quality than JPG? ›

The biggest advantage of PNG over JPEG is that the compression is lossless, meaning there is no loss in quality each time it is opened and saved again. PNG also handles detailed, high-contrast images well.

What are PNG files best used for? ›

What is a PNG file? Portable Network Graphics files (PNGs) are compressible and like JPEGS, can handle 16 million colors. They're mostly used for web graphics, logos, charts, and illustrations, rather than high-quality photographs, because they take up more storage space than JPEGs.

Is PNG or JPG better for Instagram? ›

Usually, the JPG format is the preferred one for Instagram since it supports high resolutions while remaining a relatively small file size. However, if you need to apply transparency to your picture or logo, a PNG may be the better option.

What's the highest quality image format? ›

RAW files are the highest quality image format. They are loved by photographers as RAW format records all data from the sensor of the camera. Since RAW is an uncompressed format, it gives immense creative liberty to the photographers during post-processing.

What is higher quality PNG or TIFF? ›

Are PNG or TIFF files better for photos? TIFF files are better for print photography while PNGs work best for screens. Neither option, however, is ideal for web use due to their large file size. 4.

What are the advantages of PNG over JPEG? ›

Because of their different compression processes, JPEGs contain less data than PNGs — and therefore, are usually smaller in size. Unlike JPEGs, PNGs support transparent backgrounds, making them preferred for graphic design.

What is the main disadvantage of PNG files? ›

The disadvantages of the PNG format include: Bigger file size -- compresses digital images at a larger file size. Not ideal for professional-quality print graphics -- doesn't support non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

What is PNG not used for? ›

But, animations are not supported by the PNG file format. Unlike RAW format images, PNG files allow for lossless picture compression, so the format is well-liked by its users. PNG has become one of the most frequently used image file types over time. The PNG format's primary features are listed below.

What kind of images are JPEG files most appropriate for? ›

JPG format is best used in the case of complex images with no text. By its nature, . JPG reduces loading times by selectively deleting elements of a photo. This is great for large detailed photographs that would otherwise take very long to load.

When should I use PNG vs JPEG? ›

The general rule is to use JPGs for photographs, images that don't have a transparent background, and other memory intensive files. And to choose PNGs for graphics, files with transparent backgrounds, and other images where clarity and color vibrancy are important.

Should I use JPEG or PNG for social media posts? ›

Both PNG and JPEG formats are widely used on websites and social media platforms. As mentioned earlier, PNG is great for logos, banners, and illustrations that need a transparent background. However, JPEG is a good format to use for all sorts of images on social media platforms or websites.

Does saving JPG as PNG reduce quality? ›

In contrast, PNG files benefit from lossless compression. This means no data is lost when the image is compressed — the quality stays the same no matter how many times you edit and save the file. The image won't become blurry or distorted, making PNGs ideal for sharp logos and graphs containing lots of figures.


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