If we’re preparing to reformat an image for a specific purpose online, the new format we choose needs to accurately reflect the use case we envision. Otherwise, we’ll inadvertently stifle our own efficiency and, most importantly, run the risk of slowing down our web page loading speeds. The same can be said for most file format selections: we wouldn’t use Microsoft Word to create a spreadsheet, and we wouldn’t use Excel to write an essay (even though both technically can be done).
Choosing which image format to use requires us to think about the exact purpose we expect that file to serve. While the most ubiquitous formats we encounter online – namely JPG and PNG – provide well-known benefits for their respective use cases, they also come up short in certain key areas. For example, while the JPG format is widely used on website pages due to its high degree of compression (allowing web pages to run faster), this degree of compression sacrifices a meaningful amount of image quality, which we may not always be willing to lose. While PNG is a lossless format with built-in transparency features – perfect for displaying things like graphs, logos, and illustrations on a solid background – it notably lacks the ability to fit common online use cases such as image animation when the need arises.