MacBook Pro on top of brown wooden table during daytime

Every professional web design firm knows that choosing the wrong image format for your blog or website can have a negative impact on the speed and performance of your site. Many website owners are unsure about the right image format they need for their website and often end up choosing large files or low-quality graphics that slow down their website.

Just like logo files, each image file format comes with its pros and cons. Understanding them will help you make the right decision on the ideal image format for each situation. In this post, you’ll learn why each image formats are important, the differences between them, and when to use them to get the best user experience possible.

The Importance of Image File Formats

Every graphic file you see online can be considered an image file. These files are available and can be converted to many different formats. Converting one image file format to another isn’t always the best idea as each file format will render the same image differently and also provide it with different file size.

With that said, each image file type is often perfect for one of the following factors: scalability, performance, and appearance.

Scalability: Scalable image files can be scaled, i.e., made smaller or larger, without losing out on quality. If you use unscalable image files on your website, they are bound to affect your website’s user experience as they’ll appear differently on different screen sizes.

Appearance: This applies to image file formats that come with higher quality than their counterparts.

Performance: Some image file formats come in large sizes, which can cause them to load slower, thereby affecting the loading time of your website.

The type of image file you use on your website should take these three factors into consideration. Your website should have image files that are high in quality, won’t hinder the site’s performance, and can be viewed on different screens without losing quality.

Understanding the Different Image File Formats

Image file formats can be categorized as vector files or raster files. Each category has its best use case.

Vector File Formats

Vector graphics use polygons, lines, and points to portray an image. This file format is perfect for simple geometric shapes, and it’s the best for icons and logos image files. You can scale vector images without worrying about losing quality.

This makes them the perfect image file for different screen sizes and high-resolution displays. However, with all these benefits, vector file formats aren’t the best for saving photos. Vector file formats include PDF, SVG, EPS, and AI.

Raster File Formats

These file formats create images by using pixel values in a rectangular grid. They are the ideal formats for saving photographs. Unlike vector file formats, you need to keep these file types in a specific resolution and size to get the best quality.

Without the right resolution and size, you’re likely to experience pixelated images and a downgrade in image quality. Most of the images found online are in raster image file formats. Raster file formats include PNG, JPEG, PSD, GIF, and TIFF.

What Do Lossless and Lossy Mean?

All raster image files are either lossless or lossy. Optimizing an image is done via lossless compression. Lossless image formats maintain their original resolutions when compressed, given the fact that they capture every data of their original files.

On the other hand, lossy image files remove data from their original image when compressed, so you are likely to experience a downgrade in quality when saving a lossy image. However, lossy images are often used online since their file sizes are smaller, and download speed is an essential factor for every website.

Common Image Formats and Their Pros and Cons

Not all image files available are supported by browsers, such as BMP and TIFF file formats. So, in this section, we’ll be taking a look at the file formats that are supported by browsers, their pros and cons, and how your web design firm can utilize them on your website.

Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)

JPEG files, also known as JPG files, are raster-based image formats designed for print and web use. It’s also the standard file format for most digital cameras, and thanks to its universal and compression support, it’s often used on the web. JPEG files are lossy files, which means that each time you resave them, they tend to lose quality.

You’ll need to save them using a specific image resolution and size to get the best quality. This is the reason why many social media platforms use precise image sizes, as doing so will help them preserve quality, control resolution, and avoid image stretching and pixelation while making it easy to see the photos.

Pros of JPEGs

  • They are supported by most browsers.
  • They are small and, therefore, allow faster loading time
  • JPGs are often sharp and tend to have good quality
  • They are excellent as email attachments, and they support a variety of colors

Cons of JPEGs

  • They are lossy images, which can result in low quality or text readability
  • They don’t support transparent backgrounds
  •  You can’t use them for computer-generated graphics

Portable Network Graphic (PNG)

This file format is the standard for web usage. Similar to JPGs, you need to export them in the same resolution and size to get the best quality. Also, since they are pixel-based, you can’t scale them up without experiencing pixelation on your images.

However, PNG files support transparent backgrounds, and PNG graphics -not photographs- tend to come in and retain higher quality than JPEGs since they use lossless compression. This file format is perfect for social media pages and websites as they provide sharper and more defined images on multiple screen sizes.

Pros of PNG

  • Has universal browser support
  • Ideal for graphical elements
  • Supports lossless compression
  • Perfect for small files with limited colors, such as icons, logos, and simple illustrations
  • Supports transparency

Cons of PNG

  • It’s not the best for printing-optimized screens
  • Not ideal for large files with tons of colors

Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG)

This image file format was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The SVG file format doesn’t utilize pixels, which allows the image to scale with no issues while maintaining excellent quality. SVG image files work with transparent backgrounds, and you can easily open them in web and image editors. This file format is the perfect option for icons, logos, and simple illustrations as it provides the best quality graphics when compared to JPG and PNG file formats.

Pros of SVG

  • Small file size
  • Supported by most browsers
  • Lossless scaling for texts and basic shapes
  • Illustration software support

Cons of SVG

  • Some image editors don’t support it by default
  • It’s not the best format for complex drawings or images
  • Although there are workarounds, many CMS platforms don’t support it

WebP Format

Google developed the WebP image format in 2010 with the notion that it’ll help provide better lossy and lossless compression for images used online. WebP and JPEG 2000 are considered to be next-gen image formats, and they tend to have better compression than JPEG and PNG formats.

Using WebP image format can help you save server space as the image compression will not only reduce the file size but also keep the original image quality. As a result, you’ll enjoy faster downloads and better data consumption. Unfortunately, many content management systems don’t support this image file format. You may need to use a plugin to utilize it on your website.

Pros of WebP

  • You get a smaller file size without losing out on quality
  • It can be used for both lossless and lossy compression
  • Supports transparent backgrounds

Cons of WebP

  • Many CMS platforms, such as Squarespace, don’t support it
  • Internet Explorer and Safari don’t support it


Choosing the right image type for your website means understanding the different file formats available and their intended use. With this understanding, you’ll be able to use the right file type in the right section of your website without losing out on website performance or image quality.

Work with a professional web design firm, and you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of using the right image file format, correct pixel dimension, alt text, ideal file size, and search engine optimization.