Everybody loves to see pictures on websites. And relevant images can help explain things better. They can also represent your brand and enhance the aesthetics of your website. But there are image formats like SVG, JPG, PNG, and more. So, which one is the best image format for the web? How to choose the graphic format that is best suited to display photographs?

In short, you need to mix and match image formats for better optimization. Everybody uses different devices for browsing the web. Therefore, their screens also vary in terms of resolution. Your images should be shown perfectly on displays ranging from 720p up to 8k.

In this post, you’ll get to know about the image formats in detail. You’ll have an understanding of where to put each type of format for better optimization.

SVG vs PNG vs JPG | Best Image Format for Web Explained

Before we dive in deep, let’s quickly know what these three file types are and where they shine the best. Each of these file types is ideal for different situations. So, the real question is not necessarily which one is better. Instead, it’s about understanding their optimal zones.

SVG

SVG

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. It’s the latest of these file types. It depends on mathematical shapes and curves. This makes SVG files very resizable. No matter how much you enlarge these images, they don’t distort. For top-quality, SVG files are the best.

SVG images are lossless files. These files can be static and animated. You can have transparent backgrounds and a huge range of color and gradient options. It’s highly suitable for the web and beautifully fits every type of screen.

JPG/JPEG

JPG/JPEG

JPEG, also known as JPG, stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It’s a relatively old image format, but it’s very well-known. Anyone with the tiniest understanding of image formats knows good old ‘Jay Peg’ files. 

They take up little storage space and have a wide range of color support. JPG is ideal for photographs that you upload on your site. Whichever social media you use, it uses this same format. Unfortunately, it’s not a lossless format, meaning it’ll compromise some good stuff.

JPG is still the go-to format almost everywhere. But it lacks a transparent background. JPG will also distort if zoomed, and it wouldn’t be animated. 

PNG

When searching for a logo online, you’re most probably searching the term “x logo PNG.” PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is wildly popular as a transparent image. It’s a lossless file type like SVG. But it’s not vector-based. Rather, PNG images are pixel-based, so they have some resizing regulations.

There are types of PNG files. The PNG-8 is somewhat like GIF with its 256 indexed colors. And the PNG-24 is similar to JPG, with color support of up to 16 million. PNG supports animation, but it’s mostly seen as being used as a static image.

PNG supports transparency. It’s also a lossless format, making it a great choice for detailed graphics. But as it’s built with pixels, it’ll start to fall apart when you enlarge it too much.

What are the Ideal Use Cases?

The answer to this question comes in some other questions. Ask yourself the following questions, then follow the chart I’m putting below to see which matches what. You’ll find all the answers there, I hope.

1. Do I Need Transparency?

The image that you are uploading is that a logo? Is that artwork that needs to be placed on something? If so, then you need to go for a format that supports transparency. Among the three we’re discussing, PNG and SVG support transparency.

JPG doesn’t support transparent backgrounds. However, there are smart people who can do some tricks and make transparent JPGs, but that is not what we’re after. For logos and artwork, go for PNG and SVG.

2. How Many Colors?

Let’s get a bit technical here. PNG-8 has a limitation of 256 colors. This is probably enough for you. When you go for higher formats, like PNG-24, you get an RGB image file with up to 16.8 million colors. With PNG-32, you get an RGBA image with 16.8m colors and transparency.

With JPG, you get more than 16 million colors. The better side is that JPG images are smaller in file size. But be careful with JPGs as these can often be victims of color banding. Especially if you have an image with gradients, the transition of colors may not look smooth.

SVG files do well with simpler graphics. If you are looking for a logo, icon, or font, this is the best format to go with. SVG files are smaller in size than PNG, but they look sharper on screen.

3. What Are the Target Devices?

Target devices play a vital role in choosing image formats. For example, most screens show SVG, JPG, and PNG files just fine. But if you are on a retina screen, PNG might suffer in scaling. SVG, in this case, does a better job at scaling. 

All browsers these days easily support SVG, JPG, and PNG formats. So, you can upload multiple formats of an image. It’s possible to program a website, so it helps the browser to choose from different formats. The choice is made based on screen size and resolution.

4. Animated or Static?

Sometimes you’d want a little piece of animation on your site. A popular choice for animated graphics is the GIF format. But among the three we’re discussing, only PNG and SVG support animation. JPG is not suitable for animation. 

Here is a chart that’ll help you to narrow down the selection:

Criteria SVG JPG PNG
Vector Yes No No
Raster No Yes Yes
Transparency Yes No Yes
Animation Yes No Yes
Lossy No Yes No
Sharpness Highest Moderate High

Wrapping Up

Now that you know the details, I believe it’d be easier to decide the best image format website. Choose wisely, and your website will be nicely optimized. There are, of course, more things to know about these.

I hope you make amazing choices and create an astonishing website that we all would love to visit.

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