Which Image Formats to Use: WebP, PNG, and JPEG in WordPress

by Jay Kang | Posted on October 24th, 2023
Image Formats

If you’re in the business of building or maintaining WordPress websites, you already know how crucial images are to the user experience. Whether it’s vibrant photography, informative infographics, or succinct icons, images serve to complement text and make web content more engaging.

Yet, the decision of which image format to use—WebP, PNG, or JPEG—can greatly influence both your site’s performance and its search engine ranking. By the end of this article, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of these formats, and how to strategically apply them to your WordPress projects for optimal outcomes.

What is WebP? Google’s Contender for the Web’s Image Format

WebP was developed by Google with the goal of streamlining the web. One of its standout characteristics is its support for both lossless and lossy compression. Lossless compression retains all the original data in the image, preserving its quality, while lossy compression shrinks file size by selectively removing some data.

What makes WebP unique is its advanced compression algorithm that allows the format to retain high-quality visuals while reducing file size. For instance, WebP images often reduce file size by 30% more compared to JPEG images under similar quality settings.

This format also caters to modern web needs by supporting motion-based images. Imagine you’re running an e-commerce site and want to showcase a 360-degree view of a product; WebP’s support for motion can make this much more feasible and efficient than using traditional formats like GIF.

As for compatibility, WordPress added native support for WebP images as of its 5.8 release. Meanwhile, most modern browsers—including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari—have also embraced WebP.

The Versatility of PNG

The PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format is a favorite among web developers for specific types of images, particularly those that involve text, icons, or any graphic that necessitates transparent backgrounds. Unlike WebP and JPEG, PNG employs a lossless compression algorithm. This ensures that you can compress the image without losing any of its quality.

In practical terms, let’s say you operate a tech blog and often include annotated screenshots in your WordPress posts. The lossless nature of PNG guarantees that all the text and detail in those screenshots remain crystal-clear even after compression.

However, PNG can sometimes result in larger file sizes, especially for complex, color-rich images. It’s worth noting that this format is natively supported by virtually all web browsers and image editing tools, which makes it a universally accepted choice.

JPEG: The Old but Gold Standard

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) has been around since 1986 and is often the default format for many digital cameras and smartphones. One of its major strengths lies in its ability to handle photos that require a broad color range.

Let’s say you’re a travel blogger who showcases a variety of landscapes in your articles. JPEG’s capacity for retaining vibrant colors makes it your go-to format for these types of photos. However, JPEG uses lossy compression, so each time you edit and save a JPEG image, you risk degrading its quality.

The Showdown: WebP vs. PNG vs. JPEG in Terms of File Size

Choosing the right format based on file size is not just a technical decision; it’s a strategic one. Small file sizes translate to faster website load times, which in turn impact user experience and search engine ranking. For example, Google’s data shows that WebP images are generally 26% smaller than equivalent PNG images and up to 34% smaller than equivalent JPEG images.

Deciding Based on Image Quality

Your choice of image format should also consider the quality demands of your website’s content. If you run a portfolio website showcasing high-definition photography, JPEG’s superior color retention would likely outweigh the benefits of WebP’s better compression. Similarly, technical blogs, where detail and text readability are essential, would benefit more from PNG.

Beyond Formats: Additional Best Practices for Using Images in WordPress

  1. Image Compression Plugins: Regardless of the image format you select, consider using WordPress plugins designed to compress image sizes without losing quality.
  2. Alt Text: Always include ‘Alt Text’ for your images. This helps with SEO and makes your website more accessible.
  3. Optimal Image Size: Consistency is key. Stick to specific image dimensions to maintain a uniform look across your website.
  4. Protecting Your Images: If your images are your intellectual property, take extra measures like watermarking or disabling right-click to protect them from unauthorized use.

In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing an image format for your WordPress website. It is an intricate decision that involves balancing multiple variables, including but not limited to, file size, image quality, and browser compatibility. With this guide, you’re now equipped to make an informed decision. Would you like to continue reading on this topic?

Jay Kang

Jay Kang, entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like linkilo.co and seorankserp.com. His latest creation, ProductReview.Tools, provides affiliate marketers with a powerful WordPress plugin for crafting high-converting reviews. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.