The WebP Image Format: A Complete Guide

The WebP Image Format: A Complete Guide

The landscape of image formats has changed significantly in the last decade. A new generation of formats is gradually making headway, offering diverse advantages over the traditional image files such as JPG or PNG. One of those new contenders is WebP.

If you’re an average internet user, WebP shouldn’t be a total mystery. If you’ve ever tried to right click and save a picture found online to your computer, chances are you’ve encountered this file type. But what exactly is it, how does it differ from the rest of the image files, what benefits does it bring? No worries if you don’t have the answers. We have them. Just keep on reading to discover all the particularities of this next-gen format.

What Are WebP Images

Presented to the public for the first time in 2010, WebP represents Google’s image format for the web. The format was developed by the tech giant with the purpose of making online images considerably smaller in file size. Why? Well, simply to provide a better user experience for website visitors.

As you may know, photos can seriously impact a website’s performance. Heavy, high-resolution pictures take significantly longer to load. A poor loading speed of a webpage can only cause discontent and determine visitors to bounce off. This is where Google’s photo format comes into play. WebP was particularly created to deliver lightweight image files, ideally optimized for web use. All of this without sacrificing image quality.

WebP is open-source, which means that anyone interested has the possibility to work on it and make it better.

Main Features of WebP

WebP is an alternative to consider for developers, webmasters and content creators for several reasons. Of course, the format’s highlight resides in its ability to efficiently compress pictures and graphics while preserving a high quality. Their compact size makes them ideal to save bandwidth, to improve the loading speed of a page and hence provide a pleasant user experience.

In addition to making your website faster, WebP comes with a series of other useful features:

  • Users have the chance to opt for either lossy or lossless compression.
  • The format is compatible not only with still photos, but also with animations. Moreover, Google claims WebP files are sensibly smaller than GIF’s.
  • WebP supports transparency, color profiles and metadata stored in the EXIF or XMP standard.

Limitations to Consider

WebP offers numerous benefits, but there are also certain drawbacks:

  • It’s mainly made for the web. The format does a great job at providing small-sized, high-quality photos for online display, but it’s not ideal for offline use. Viewing such files on PC is not simple, since not many editors offer support.
  • Compatibility challenges. In addition to not being supported by various photo editing software, WebP is also not compatible with older browsers and with certain online platforms.

WebP vs JPEG

JPEG is without a doubt the most recognizable image format. Dating back to 1992, this image file is currently the most used both online and offline. But being the most popular doesn’t necessarily imply it’s the best. JPEG uses lossy compression, which leads to certain data loss from the original picture. Here are the key differences between the two image files:

  • Both JPEG and WebP compress photos for easy sharing and storing. The main difference is that, according to Google, WebP lossy files can be 25-34% smaller in size than JPEG’s at the same image quality.
  • Unlike JPEG, WebP supports transparency, which makes it a suitable format for graphics.
  • WebP supports animations, while JPEG doesn’t.
  • JPEG is compatible with all browsers, platforms and editing software. On the other hand, WebP is still facing compatibility issues with some browsers and many image editors.

WebP vs PNG

After JPEG, PNG is probably the second most popular raster image file type. This format uses lossless compression, which means that image details aren’t lost during the compression process. You can modify the picture as many times as you want without losing quality. But how do PNG’s stack up against WebP’s? Let’s take a look:

  • Both WebP and PNG files benefit from lossless compression, but the key difference is that WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in file size at equivalent image quality.
  • Both WebP and PNG support transparency, making them a good choice for creating logos and diverse graphics.
  • WebP supports animations, while PNG doesn’t.
  • Just like JPEG, PNG enjoys considerably more support, both online and offline, than WebP.

WebP vs GIF

GIF is another popular raster file type used to display still and animated images. If you’ve come across memes or animations on social media and other websites (and you most surely have), chances are those files were GIF’s. But is this the ideal format for creating and sharing animations? Let’s see how it compares to WebP:

  • WebP’s are smaller in file size. According to Google developers, converting a GIF to a lossy WebP results in a 64% reduction in file size, while a lossless WebP is 19% smaller.
  • WebP’s support 24-bit RGB color, while GIF’s only 8-bit color.
  • WebP files can use both lossy and lossless compression, while GIF’s are limited to lossless compression.
  • A GIF file requires less decoding time in comparison to an animated WebP.
  • GIF’s enjoy almost universal support, which isn’t yet the case for WebP’s.

How to Convert WebP Images

As we’ve seen, WebP is optimal for uploading and showcasing photos online. But what happens if we want to view or edit such picture files on our personal computers? Well, here things can get tricky. Not many image viewers or editors are equipped to handle WebP’s, which means that you’ll have to convert them to a widely used format such as JPG or PNG. You can quickly and easily do this with the aid of our very own PhotoMarks.

PhotoMarks is a photo editor for Windows and Mac that supports a large variety of image formats, including WebP. In order to convert your files all you have to do is follow a simple, three-step process: add your pictures in the first step, apply the desired edits to them in Step 2 (this is optional) and choose your preferred output format and the destination of your files. Once everything is configured, all that’s left to do is hit the Process button. The tool will then proceed to convert all your files.