Missouri Business

GIF, JPEG or PNG? How to choose a file format wisely

By David Sheets, Communications Consultant, dksheets@gmail.com

Seeing is believing, the saying goes. That phrase dates back to the 17th century, but it means more now than ever. In our image-driven culture, we place value on what we can visualize at a glance.

That’s why tweets are 35 percent more likely to be re-tweeted, Facebook posts are 85 percent more likely to be “liked,” and whole websites are 90 percent more memorable when meaningful images or graphics are embedded in them. Regardless, we tend to treat all visual content the same way, no matter the source or purpose, and have since the dawn of the browser-based web 20 years ago.

The result is an abundance of images that appear blurry or ill-defined—images that appear too small or too large for the space allowed or that hinder a browser’s ability to display a site quickly and effectively.

David Sheets

We never learned—or if we did, we keep forgetting—that digital image formats vary, and each has a distinct, optimal purpose. Lacking an understanding of those purposes, we risk losing clicks, clients, and valuable attention.

So, let’s learn, remember, and properly use the three common image formats:

Not all digital images are the same. Treating them as if they are leaves a bad impression with web audiences. By being mindful of these formats and their principle purposes, you can rest assured that the first visual impression you make will be a good one.