The WebP Image Format: A Comprehensive Overview

The WebP Image Format: A Comprehensive Overview

Image formats have come a long way since the JPEG release in 1992. A new generation of formats is starting to step into the picture, offering various advantages in comparison to the classic image files. One of these new formats is WebP.

If you’ve downloaded photos from a website or blog to your computer, at one point you’ve definitely come across a different file extension. Not your standard .jpg or .png. No, a different one: .webp. What exactly is this image format? Where did it come from and why? Keep on reading to discover everything there is to know about this file type.

What Is a WebP File

One of the indicators of a website’s performance is the page load time. This page load time can keep users on a website or, if it’s too slow, chase them away. Of course, images play an essential role in the page speed, that’s why it’s mandatory to have properly optimized files. And this is where the WebP image format steps in.

WebP is an image file developed by Google with the clear aim of making web pages load significantly faster. The format is promoted as a better option than JPG or PNG, because it has the capacity to display high-quality pictures that are actually smaller in file size in comparison to the classic formats.

The History of the Format

WebP was first introduced to the public in 2010 after Google acquired On2 Technologies, the company responsible for the original technology. In time, the format has received numerous improvements, including support for animations and transparent images with both lossless and lossy compression.

The compatibility with web browsers wasn’t ideal initially, but it got better over the years. Now, in addition to Google Chrome, WebP is supported on Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Opera. Along with the release of Safari 14 in September 2020, the format also enjoys support on Mac and iOS devices.

The Benefits of Using WebP

WebP can be a great choice for several reasons:

  • Faster page load time. WebP files ensure a faster page speed on mobile and desktop without sacrificing image quality. This in return can give a serious boost to your search rankings on Google.
  • Smaller file size than JPG, PNG and GIF. According to Google, WebP lossless pictures are 26% smaller than PNG’s, while WebP lossy pictures can be somewhere between 25-34% smaller than equivalent JPG’s. Moreover, animated GIF’s converted to lossy WebP’s can be 64% smaller.
  • It’s a multivalent image format. WebP supports animations, transparency (even transparent images with lossy compression), metadata (EXIF and XMP) and color profile.
  • It’s endorsed by Google. It’s a well-known fact that Google likes it when you use its products and implement its recommendations. Opting for a modern image format which Google recommends won’t do you any harm. On the contrary, it can generate visible benefits.

The Drawbacks of WebP

WebP does come with certain disadvantages:

  • Only for the internet. WebP is a file type particularly conceived for the web. You can use it to upload properly optimized images on your website, but that’s pretty much it. You can’t really use it for other purposes, such as viewing images on your PC for instance.
  • Compatibility. Even though it’s supported by the majority of new browsers, the use of WebP on Internet Explorer for example can be problematic. Moreover, the format is not compatible with various photo editing software and online sharing platforms.
  • Image quality. In case you opt for the lossy compression, it may be possible to notice a minor drop in picture quality.

How to Convert WebP Images

WebP is web-friendly solution for uploading and displaying photos. It is optimal for online use, but if you’d like to view the pictures outside a browser or edit them on a computer, you may encounter some difficulties. This is because not many photo editing programs provide support for this file type. In this case, you’ll need to convert your WebP files to a popular format like JPG or PNG. You can easily accomplish this task with the aid of a batch image converter like BatchPhoto.

BatchPhoto can import and export to over 200 image formats and provides a simple and fast conversion process. Just load your pictures in the first step, apply the desired edits in the second step (if necessary) and select your output format and destination in the third step. Once you’ve set everything up, hit the Process button and let the program convert all your images.