Decoding the Visual Web: Which Image Format Reigns Supreme Online?

Websites without pictures sound absolutely impossible in today’s visual centric culture, but there is a bit of a debate regarding which image formats end up working out best. According to statistics released by W3Techs (as of 7 March 2024), a few image formats are extremely widely used with all things having been considered and taken into account, whereas some are hardly used at all.

It is important to note that the PNG file format wins out with 82% of websites using it. In spite of the fact that this is the case, it’s by no means the only file format that saw such a wide level of adoption.

Many websites are using JPEGs because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up reducing loading times. JPEGs (or JPG) are smaller and can be compressed more efficiently than might have been the case otherwise, which is they 77.7% of websites are using them at this current point in time (but you know JPG images look too crappy, when overly compressed).

PNG is prevalent in website images, closely followed by JPEGs. However, adoption of WebP and AVIF remains limited.
Fun fact: This chart ^ is in the PNG image format, ;)

However, any web developer reading this would know that these are old school file formats. What about those next gen formats that are purported to be the way of the future? These formats are WebP and AVIF, and the surprising thing is that they are not all that widely used! WebP is used in 11.7% of websites, but AVIF is only used in 0.1%.
GIFs are far more widely used with 21.2%, which makes sense considering that moving images are not something that are going to go away anytime soon. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) are also popular among 55.3% of sites due to their ability to offer enhanced zooming thanks to the use of points on a mathematical grid instead of pixels.

At the end of the day, these image formats are the most widely used on the internet, and other formats like ICO, BMP, TIFF and APNG were used by 0.2% or fewer. It will be interesting to watch as WebP and AVIF formats potentially become more widespread down the line, since they are supposedly the next step in image format evolution.

Image Format Percentage of Websites
PNG 82.0%
JPEG 77.7%
SVG 55.4%
GIF 21.2%
WebP 11.7%
ICO 0.2%
BMP 0.2%
AVIF 0.1%
TIFF and APNG Less than 0.1%
None 3.6%

Data source: W3Techs, 7 March 2024. Note: A website may use more than one image file format.

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