PNG vs JPG: Which is Better for Your WordPress Website
When deciding on which photographs to upload to your website , it’s important you put some thought into choosing the appropriate image file format (aside from ensuring their content is appealing enough, of course). While there are dozens of formats to pick from, PNG and JPG are the most commonly used on the web.
But what are the differences between the two? How do you know you’ve made the right decision by picking one over the other? In this PNG vs JPG face-off, we’ll discuss each format separately so by the time you reach the end of the article you know exactly which file type to go for. The topics we’ll cover include:
Before we delve deep into the discussion about PNG and JPG, it’s important we make the distinction between lossless and lossy compression. By understanding what both mean, it will be easier for you to comprehend the difference between the two most popular image file types.
The reason why one would want to optimize images for the web in the first place is to save storage space, transfer files faster, and avoid compromising the page loading speed. But does image compression inevitably affect the quality of your file? Does smaller file size necessarily imply low image quality? Luckily, one does not entail the other.
Lossless compression is a method that reduces the size of an image, video, or audio file with no loss of quality. While that may seem hard to believe, it is true and possible because each audio or graphic file contains at least a tiny amount of redundant information. By applying the lossless method of compression, the superfluous data is removed. You are then left with a file that is smaller in size than the original, but the file quality has remained unchanged. Another great thing about lossless compression is that it lets you recover the original data any time you want since no important information has been lost during the compression.
Lossy compression, on the other hand, allows for a higher compression ratio than the lossless type, but it also affects both the size of the image and its quality. When applied, it discards some data from the file, meaning you cannot exactly reconstruct the original version. The end result is a photograph that often has somewhat jagged edges and pixelated areas, but those changes are usually not easily noticeable, at least not without close examination. Each time you make edits, the removed data is gone for good. But the reason why this type of compression is so popular is that it can reduce the file size by more than 80%, saving you quite a lot of bandwidth. And you can use it not only for visual content but for audio files, too.
Now that the cornerstone has been laid and we’ve mastered the difference between the lossy and lossless compression, we can dive into the talk about PNG and JPG formats.
PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. This type of a file entails lossless compression and in it lies its biggest advantage over JPG.
PNG files support a wide range of colors and grayscale. They work beautifully with high-contrast images as they don’t compress pixels. And because PNGs keep the crispness of files, they are the perfect choice for detailed illustrations and screenshots.
Another great thing about this file type is that it retains transparency with both color and grayscale pictures. You know how people use a checkered background to indicate the image is transparent? If they were to save the file as a .JPG, the transparency would be lost and there’d be a white background behind the featured graphic. PNG always preserves transparency, which is especially useful when adding a logo to your site, as format ensures that even the elements that are placed behind the logo are well visible. Moreover, if your images have text in, it’s better to stick to .PNG to not mess up the letter readability and avoid blurred lines.
JPG is used interchangeably with JPEG and it stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Back in the day, Windows used to limit filename extensions to 3 letters only, hence why the “E” had to go away for a while and .JPG rose to prominence. Nowadays though, both extensions are going strong and are equally used.
JPGs allow for lossy compression, making the file smaller in size while maintaining the image quality as high as possible. Websites that contain this photo format load fast, much to the users’ delight. The JPEG algorithm scans the entire picture, finds the pixels that look pretty much the same and have the same value, and then groups them into tiles. While this helps reduce the final size of the file, it also means some file data will be irrevocably lost.
JPGs support a myriad of colors, which is why they’re typically used for complex images that feature lots of hues and shading. But since the drop of image quality is inevitable, the edited file won’t have as many colors as the original version (even though users might not even be able to spot the difference). Because of the file degradation that ensues upon compression, JPG is not the first choice for detailed graphics, but it works great for photos.
As a rule of thumb, PNG file format is a better option if pixels on your photos need to look sharp and clear. If you plan on adding graphics, screenshots, illustrations, charts, graphs, or logos to your WordPress site, choose PNG.
When your images are bursting with colors, gradients, shadows, and textures, save them as .JPG. Moreover, if you intend to share your visual files on social networks, chances are the JPG format will be supported regardless of the platform as it’s pretty much a standard for compatibility. As we’ve mentioned, this type of a file loads quite fast, so if you, say, run an online shop, JPGs will ensure there’s no time lag and the pages cluttered with products load fast.
There are also instances when using both formats is a good thing to do. For example, if you took a photo of nature to which you added some text, it’d be for the best to go for two bitmap files. You should use JPG for the landscape and PNG for the featured text as the background behind it needs to be transparent.
Optimizing images for the web doesn’t necessarily require any particular skills. You don’t even have to know how to use editing software. The easiest way to go about that is to install a WordPress image compression plugin and effortlessly compress files to the format that best suits your requirements. And in the game of PNG vs JPG, who takes the crown? Well, the final result is tied. There are no clear winners nor is one format better than the other. It all depends on what kind of content you wish to add to your website and how fast you want your site to load. If you want to add high-quality, intricate graphics, PNG is a better choice. When the website’s loading speed is of utmost importance and you plan on adorning your pages with appealing imagery, you should opt for JPG.