JPG, PNG or GIF – Which One Should You Use and When?

When it comes to image use on your website, within your blog or in your social media posts, the JPG, PNG, and GIF file formats are the most commonly used. However, it is important to remember that each of these come with very different capabilities and are not cross-compatible. Here, we will look at the pros and cons of each, and give you our recommendation on where and when to use each one successfully.


JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

This file format is widely used by professional photographers and is ideally meant for use with photographs. It can be compressed as small as you like, however, keep in mind that some of the data in the file may be lost due to heavy compression. This file type also does not use color palettes when referencing color, rather, it uses 24-bit color definitions.

The Pros of using JPEG/JPG files

  • 24-bit color scheme
  • Best image file format for compression, but may compromise on image quality
  • Most common file format used in the photography industry
  • Ideal for high-quality, highly detailed photographic images

The Cons of using JPEG/JPG files

  • Not the best file format for digital art (logos, icons, etc.)
  • Does not support transparency, making the image background more difficult to remove or replace if needed

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

The Portable Network Graphic (PNG) file format is ideal for digital art (flat images, logos, icons, etc.), and uses 24-bit color as a foundation. The ability to use a transparency channel increases the versatility of this file type.

The Pros of using PNG file types

  • Ideal file type for digital art
  • Incorporates a “lossless” compression for ensured file quality
  • 24-bit color (similar to JPEG) which supports over 16 million colors

The Cons of using PNG file types

  • Normally the largest files in the image file types
  • Not ideal for dimensional (photographic) images
  • Unless compressed, this large file type will use significantly more storage in your CMS file library

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

This image file type is ideal for flat images with well-defined image sections (such as logos). Also, this file type is normally used to create an animation from image files. With the incorporation of lossless quality within compression, these files can be transferred and stored with no quality loss, and have a smaller impact on your image library storage.

The Pros of using GIF files

  • Allows transparency of a single color in the file
  • Uses lossless compression technology for higher-quality images
  • Ability to convert image files to animations

The Cons of using GIF files

  • Use of the 256 indexed color palette restricts color choice
  • Does not support shadows or blended boarders
  • Uses dithering to emulate colors when two or more colors intersect
  • Does not reveal dimensions to photographs or other real-world images

When you are considering the use of images for your website or other digital presence, make sure you consider the value and benefits of each file type, based on the image at hand. Here at Unleaded Group, we are in tune with file types and the optimum use of images for your website, along with the file storage of images in your CMS. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our digital presence consultants, visit us today online, or call us at 720-221-7126.