When it comes to images on the web, there is no one size fits all file format that will suit all situations on a website design. However, choosing the right image formats can dramatically improve site performance. Get it wrong, and your visitors will feel like they are scrolling through thick molasses. In this article, we will settle once and for all the argument between JPG vs. PNG.

What’s the Difference Between PNG vs JPG?

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. With a title like that, you would expect PNG to be the perfect format for all images on the worldwide network that is the internet, especially since it’s a lossless format. When a file format is described as lossless, it means that the image quality does not suffer any loss in quality during compression. 

The Digital Marketer's Guide To The JPG vs PNG War - When To Use Them? - 123RF Blog

Photo by rawpixel, 123RF.

JPEG and JPG refer to the same image format, which is the Joint Photographic Experts Group. Unlike PNG JPG uses lossy compression, which means the image quality can suffer when you compress it down into a smaller file size.
Photo by rawpixel, 123RF.

JPEG and JPG refer to the same image format, which is the Joint Photographic Experts Group. Unlike PNG, JPG uses lossy compression, which means the image quality can suffer when you compress it down into a smaller file size. The most significant difference between jpeg and png then is the quality of the final image after compression. You may think that PNG is the way to go every time because it will give you a better-quality image. However, there will be times when you will be better off with a lower quality image in parts of your site design. 

When to Use JPG in Your Site Design

If PNG images are lossless, why even bother with the lossy JPG format? The long-form title “Joint Photographic Experts Group” provides a clue. Every digital camera on the planet can store files in JPG format, and if you want photographs with complex colors and shading to look their best on a web page, then JPG wins. There will be a perceptive difference in quality with the higher compressions, but it’s a necessary sacrifice to keep the page responsive with a smaller amount of data. 

When to Use a PNG File

PNG originally arrived on the scene as a replacement for GIFs but has grown into being the most used lossless compression format in website design. The Portable Network Graphics image was designed to facilitate the transfer of pictures via the internet rather than through print graphics. It’s for this reason PNG does not support non-RGB color spaces, including CMYK. Click here to read more about CMYK and RGB, and discover which color format works best for your use.

A significant advantage of PNG over JPG is that PNG supports varying levels of transparency, while JPG does not. The possibility of a completely transparent background means that PNG is an excellent choice for logo design, page headers, and images requiring fade effects. 

JPG vs PNG – Does it Matter?

Page speed will be severely compromised if the browser needs to download large image files. You need to consider the size of the image when incorporating it into your design. Significantly compressing a JPG to save on downloading data will mean the picture won’t look its best. However, since JPG is the best way to display photographs, a balance between speed and image quality needs to be found.

If your images contain graphs and text, then PNG will improve the readability of the text. JPG images could give the straight lines a jaggy appearance after compression, which means the text could be hard to make out. Screenshots are a great example of when PNG will be more suitable, as they often contain a mix of photographs and text. 

Now that you understand the differences between PNG vs. JPG, it should be a simpler decision about which one to use in your marketing materials. When in doubt, compare the jpeg and png formats side-by-side and use the one that best suits your design goals. And if you’re interested in other formats like the SVG file, click here to learn more about that, as well as 5 reasons why you should use the SVG.