The best lightweight image formats you should use on your WordPress website

7 minutes reading

There comes a time for any WordPress website owner to ask themselves how they can make their website run faster. The obvious solution is to find a fast, reliable, and secure hosting service provider like HostArmada. Nonetheless, even if you are our client and enjoy all the benefits of our products, you can still optimize your WordPress website and make it even faster. One of the more affordable and less complicated ways to achieve higher speeds is optimizing your images and making them as lightweight as possible. This can be done without hiring a developer and, generally, is not that complicated. All you need to do is choose the correct image file format for your needs and follow a few simple steps. So let’s have a look at the five best lightweight image formats everyone should use on their WordPress website.

Why are lightweight images vital for the success of your website?

The main reason you’d want to optimize your images is, of course, the website’s speed and performance. The pictures and videos on your website are typically the heaviest files that need to be loaded for the website to show. Heavy imagery means longer load time, and longer load time leads to fewer visitors. Using lighter images will immensely improve the user experience, and while it won’t necessarily bring you more customers, it will certainly prevent any loss.

Moreover, heavy images take a toll on your SEO score. Using weighty imagery is almost as bad as using low-quality ones, as Google is all about user experience, and both cases situate a problem that the search engine can’t ignore. So using lighter and SEO-friendly images (with included Alt text) will help you immensely with your SEO efforts.

The lighter images are more appropriate for the responsive design, which has become the standard in recent years. Naturally, you can’t afford to disregard any devices on which your website might be seen, as about 5.34 billion people on the planet have a smartphone, and about 60% of them have contacted a business directly using a search result.

Finally, there is the aesthetic point. You want your website to be as eye-pleasing as possible, so you need to know how a file format will change the image display.

As you can see clearly, having well-optimized images is not simply a whim that you can ignore but a highly valuable operation that will bring you a lot of benefits in the long run.

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Five to-dos before you consider changing image formats

Before we get to explaining the different types of image formats and their pros and cons, for well-optimized website imagery, you need to take at least five steps beforehand. Let’s dive right in!

1. Use caching technologies

The cache of your website is what enhances the user experience the most. We can logically separate the caching technologies into three layers – Server Side caching, Application caching, and CDN caching.

Server Side Caching is a caching mechanism that aims to cache your website’s static and dynamic content on the Web Hosting server. That reduces the time your website needs to prepare the content for visitors.

Although part of the web hosting server, Application Caching is a caching mechanism integrated within the code of your website. For WordPress, that means using caching plugins like LS Cache or WP-Rocket, for example.

CDN Caching, on the other hand, is a caching mechanism that is not part of the web hosting server, however, it caches the static files (CSS, JS, HTML) of your website geographically closer to your visitors than the web hosting server is. This allows for faster loading speed in situations where the other two caching layers are not supported.

2. Compress the images you use on your website

Try always to use compressed images. They are smaller in size without compromising the quality of the visual. There are tons of plugins for WordPress that can do the job for you, or you can use a third-party program to do so. The important thing is not to load any data that won’t help you with your website’s appearance.

3. Use Lazy Loading

Typically when a person comes to a website, he wants to see the header and the Hero section, which appear on his screen. Almost no one scrolls immediately down, making the immediate load of images “below the fold” time-consuming and unnecessary. With Lazy Loading, you deliberately prevent these images from loading when your website is open, but instead, they load only when the user scrolls down. This means that via Lazy Loading, you can increase the website’s speed several times, depending on how heavy is your main (title) image.

4. Edit your images

Naturally, if you want your website to run fast, you need to customize your images according to their needs. This means you must cut off all parts of an image (or video) that simply won’t be shown due to the required dimensions.

5. Replace GIFs with HTML video

Animation brings your website to life, and many people add gifs to create one genuinely spectacular page. However, gifs are not particularly speed-friendly, as they are one of the heaviest file formats you can add to your website. The solution is to use HTML videos instead since they are way smaller in size and are better in almost every aspect. They reproduce more colors, offer more explicit pictures, and, most importantly, are quite effortless to insert on the webpage.

If you follow these steps, all your picture optimization will be immensely more potent and will allow you to make your website faster and more user-friendly.

While we are talking about image optimization, we need to address the elephant in the room and go through the best file formats WordPress loves, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

If you follow these steps, the image optimization will be immensely more potent and will allow you to make your website faster and more user-friendly.

While we are talking about image optimization, we need to address the elephant in the room and go through the best file formats WordPress loves, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

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The fastest Image File Formats

Ordered from the most optimized, here are our top picks for image file formats you should use on your WordPress website.

1. WebP

WebP is a relatively new image format created by Google. Naturally, like anything created by the King of Search Engines, this formatting is way more SEO-friendly, and it’s quite a bit popular among website owners who use lots of imagery on their websites. Of course, suppose you are going for a website that predominantly uses pictures to communicate with its audience. In that case, you will need an image format that can handle compressions without affecting the quality of the image. In this regard, WebP is far better than PNG or JPEG. Moreover, the format usually uses smaller full-size photos, and it will take up far less space on your web hosting plan.

2. SVG

48% of all websites use SVG image format. Whenever you see vector drawings that have been quite popular in the past few years, they are SVGs. The main idea behind this format was to create a markup language that would render these images right into the browser. Unlike raster images, SVG doesn’t rely on pixels. Instead, it uses XML text to form a shape, much like mathematical equations result in graphs. Naturally, this means that SVG files are easily formatted and can be scaled up or down without negatively affecting the picture’s quality. Moreover, it’s supported by all known web browsers and can be implemented efficiently on almost any WordPress website.

The downside is that the format is not ideal for more complex pictures and intricate visuals. However, SVG remains the go-to format for logos, icons, and illustrations.

3. PNG

PNG is another raster graphic format, which allows for compression with a relatively small loss of quality. This is amazing when you need a responsive design with quality and detailed imagery. One of its best features is its text readability, making it perfect for memes and other text-heavy images. Naturally, this makes PNG the go-to format for websites that want to add infographics, screenshots, graphs, and banners.

The only downside is the relatively big file size, which, although compressed, may cause your website to slow down, especially if you overuse it. So if your website is full of high-resolution pictures, PNG is not the format you’ve been looking for.


One of the most popular formats on the entire internet is JPEG. Nearly three-quarters of all websites use this format, as do Social Media giants like Facebook and Instagram. The format reduces the file size and quality, although not significantly. The most significant advantage is the relatively small file size you get, especially for the quality, although it’s not ideal if there is text on the images. The file format is supported by all known browsers and is the perfect choice for blog pictures, portfolio headshots, and product images. 

Which one is the best?

As usual, there is no conclusive answer to this question. There wouldn’t be a dozen file formats if they all did the same thing. It all depends on your needs and preferences.

For example, suppose you are using images to enhance your SEO goals further, and you are targeting people who rarely use Safari (for example, iOS users). In that case, WebP is the format you’ve been looking for. On the other hand, if your content is heavily vectorized and you only use icons, logos, and simple illustrations, then SVG is the better choice. Finally, you should look for PNG if you want a regular website with memes, banners, infographics, and other text-heavy images.

So probably the best answer here would be to use different formats depending on your needs. However, if we have to pick one, then WebP is our go-to format. Whatever you choose, please remember that the images are only one small variable in the big website loading speed equation. The most significant improvement comes from your web hosting provider. HostArmada is where you will find the best offers if you want a high-speed web hosting alternative.