E-commerce Product Images: Best Formats

by | Dec 31, 2020

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When it comes to e-commerce, visuals are a driving factor in the consumer’s buying decisions. If you get them right, you’ll be rewarded with a new sale, get it wrong and you’ll lose a potential sale and customer. Product images are the first things users notice, even before they read the product’s description. So it’s crucial for you to put out the best quality pictures that don’t compromise the quality and load time of your e-commerce website.

While it’s easy for us to tell you to optimize your product images, we know it’s not as easy to achieve the desired product images. The biggest cause of concern is the format of the image; with so many different formats available, which one should your business choose? The wrong file format could mean a poor web page or a giant download, or even missing graphics on your website or emails. But don’t panic! We’re here to help you.

After this blog, you’ll (hopefully) learn about the most important file formats available, the pros and cons for each format, and which one would be the ideal choice for your e-commerce stores. So let’s dig in!

Types of Images

Lossy Image

Lossy image formats estimate what your original image looks like. For example, a lossy image might reduce the number of colors in your image or analyze the image for any unnecessary data. These clever technical tricks will typically reduce the file size, though they may also reduce the quality of your image.

Lossless Image

Lossless image formats encapsulate all of the data from the original file. Nothing from the original file, photo, or piece of art is lost—hence the term “lossless”. The file may still be compressed, but all lossless formats will be able to reconstruct your image to its original state.

The Different Image Formats

JPEG (JPG)

JPG or Joint Photographic Experts Group is ideal for websites as it supports millions of individual colors. It uses less storage space and can be easily uploaded and downloaded.

JPEG images are the most common format used by digital cameras and online. They offer the most flexibility with raster editing and compression, which makes it easy to download images from the web. They support a wide range of colors, but the JPEG compression settings allow you to strike a balance between image quality and file size. JPEGs work well on websites and across email and social marketing platforms.

However, JPEGs only support 8-bit images. Since most modern digital cameras support 10, 12, 14, and 16-bit images. This means that images saved in the JPEG format that aren’t 8-bit will lose their quality and extra information will be discarded. Another issue with this format is that it doesn’t support layered images. This increases the workload on the graphic designer who has to manipulate and edit the images if they’re layered.

Despite its drawbacks, JPEGs are ideal for web pages as they can be reduced tremendously, and smaller file sizes are optimum for online stores.

Pros

  • Smaller File Size
  • Allows faster load time for website pages
  • Compatible with most applications

Cons

  • Reducing file size can lead to a loss in image quality.
  • Only supports 8-bit images.

PNG

PNG, an acronym for Portable Network Graphics, is a file format that supports a wide range of colors. It also lets you create transparent backgrounds so if you ever edit your images in software like Photoshop and wish to leave the background transparent, the PNG format will retain this feature online. But it isn’t the most optimum choice for image formats for e-commerce websites. Why? Because it comes with the unfortunate cost of a large file size which doesn’t just take longer to upload, but also increases your website’s load time. And longer load times are a big no-no!

A great thing about PNGs is that they are ‘lossless’ which means you won’t lose any of your data during compression. This also makes it the best option for your images if you wish to edit them multiple times and retain their quality.

PNG-8 supports 256 indexed colors, as well as transparency. PNG-24, like JPGs, can support up to 16 million colors. PNGs are most often used for static images, like a JPG would, however, they can support animation. PNG tends to be the best choice for detailed graphics online.

Pros:

  • No loss in quality of image during editing.
  • Greater color depths, allowing for more vibrant images.
  • Allow for transparent image backgrounds.

Cons:

  • Due to PNG being a lossless image format, file sizes can become too large.
  • Works best with images that use less than 16 colors.

GIFs

It’s 2020; if GIFs aren’t your primary form of communication with your friends and family, you’re doing communication wrong. They’re literally so much fun, how can you resist using them? We can’t! Anyway, what even are GIFs? Graphics Interchange Format is images that are used for short simple animations.

Much like PNG images, GIFs are lossless and support up to 256 indexed colors. They’re smaller in size compared to JPGs, but they’re also lower in quality. They don’t actually have any audio attached to them, but their animated features make them super fun to use. You can find a GIF to represent any mood. Cool, right?

However, these are only suitable for smaller image sizes like an icon or thumbnail. The bigger your image size gets, the less efficient GIFs become at processing colors. But also remember, GIF is the only format that supports animation.

Pros:

  • Allows for transparency: you can place your image on any colored background.
  • The compression features for GIF allows files to be shrunk to extremely small sizes.
  • The only format that supports animation.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for large files
  • The format doesn’t work well for complex images
images-best-practices

Which Image Format should you use?

Alright, so now that we’ve talked all about the formats, let me suggest ideal formats for some common web images.

E-commerce Websites

If you want to upload product images to your e-commerce stores, JPEG files are your best friend. Their small file size will help you retain your website load time and ensure that customers don’t run into issues relating to product images, that is, your images will always be displayed and without any unsought delay. However, if you run a website where you need to display larger images, then we suggest you switch to PNG. The increased load time will be a beneficial trade-off for higher quality images.

Blog Posts

We know people don’t usually visit blog posts for the images; it’s for the content. But it’s always a good idea to throw in a couple of relevant pictures to make your blog more aesthetically pleasing, and these images should always be in JPEG format. There is no need for you to try different formats as they’ll just make your blog pages lag, decrease your SEO, and increase your website’s bounce rate. So keep it simple, and choose JPEG, always.

Animations and Icons/Logos

Your web site’s landing pages usually feature a lot of animations, icons, and logos. We suggest you use GIF for animations that are smaller and simpler, and SVG files should be your go-to if you want to consistently create interactive web pages and animated videos.

Conclusion

Images are an important part of e-commerce businesses as they bring in conversions. The key to a successful conversion is good quality product images that don’t compromise the load time of your web pages. Follow our guide on the best image formats and you’ll be putting out quality images and bringing in more sales for your online business.

8 Brilliant Ways To Make Sure Your Ecommerce Product Images Stand Out (Quick Guide).

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