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By using the proper file format for the images on your website, you ensure the highest quality image in the smallest possible file, which translates into better looking, faster loading pages.
For all practical purposes, when it comes to using images on a website, there are 3 file formats to choose from: JPG, GIF and PNG. While other useful formats are available, browser support usually requires the installation of additional software, a hurdle that is likely to limit your audience.
The primary consideration in determining which of these file types to use is the image’s content. Is the image composed primarily of solid or “block” colors such as a logo or text, or does the image have a wide variation of colors such a photograph? For images composed of mostly solid colors, use GIF or PNG. For full-color images, use JPG.
It’s about compression
I’ll keep the whys and what-fors on this brief. If you want to know more, there is a good link below.
GIF and PNG use LWZ compression which means that instead of saying something like “red pixel, red pixel, red pixel, red pixel, red pixel, red pixel, red pixel, green pixel, red pixel” it says “7 red pixels, green pixel, red pixel.” Further, LWZ compression is “lossless” which means that when you save an image in one of these formats, none of the information is lost.
JPEG compression on the other hand, is a “lossy” kind of compression which means that when you save an image to JPG, information is lost. It works by using algorithms to describe 8×8 pixel blocks, and it does so in a way that is designed to fool the eye. JPEG compression hides itself well when there is a lot of tonal variation, but if care is not taken, the blocks can become visible.
Here are a couple of examples that demonstrate the use of GIF vs JPG.
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