What are WebP Images: A Beginners Guide to Next-Gen Google Images Format

One of the ways to optimize page speed is by using WebP image formats. But what is WebP, after all? It is a format that offers rich

What are WebP Images: A Beginners Guide to Next-Gen Google Images Format

Having a website that loads quickly can be every webmaster’s most prominent dream. One of the ways to optimize page speed is by using WebP image formats. But what is WebP, after all?

What are WebP Images: A Beginners Guide to Next-Gen Google Images Format

It is a format that offers rich, high-quality images but with a smaller size than PNG or JPEG. This article will learn about WebP, its pros and cons, and how to use this format on your WordPress site.

What exactly is WebP?

So, WebP is a file format developed by Google back in the 20s. It offers its highest rate1 for images while keeping them intact.

Web admins and developers can images with smaller file sizes so that you can build faster.

This format uses more powerful weightless methods as far as lossy formats compared to lossy PNG and JPEG formats.

Lossless compression means that every bit of the original data will remain the same after the extracted file. The lossless size of WebP allows you to reduce the size of images by up to 26% compared to PNG.

So, on the other hand, it also has a lot of lossy types, which usually reduces the file size to the original file.

Predictive programming to encode the image, lossy-type WebP delivers quality comparable to JPEG while reducing image sizes by 25% to 34%.

WebP images advantages

As we are not previously mentioned, smaller image sizes can make a big difference on your site – it helps the difference to the page load faster.

Another benefit is saving more bandwidth, especially if your site is full of images. This happens, for example, if you are running a travel or photography blog, among other topics.

So, to better understand the difference, let’s look at a brief explanation of JPEG and PNG formats.

JPEG (or JPG) – this format is excellent for images with many colors and is the preferred option for still images. Generally, there is a negative: you will perceive a small image because of the quality of the representation on one side.

PNG – is excellent for maintaining image quality, even when compressed. This format generally fits well for images with lots of data or pixels. For example, in the case of logos, images are full of texts and illustrations. However, it doesn’t work very well with photographs.

So, WebP combines and offers the best of both formats. While it provides a 25-34% smaller format than PNG or JPEG, it also allows you to maintain image quality.

To get a better idea, give P the web gallery images. As you can see, you can’t see a difference in quality between JPEG images (on the left) and WebP-like images (on the right).

However, when you check the files, you’ll notice the difference: WebP images are 32% to 34% smaller than JPEGs.

WebP images disadvantages

This image format’s benefits are also generous, including some data on its properties.

Of course, some of the main browsers on the market – including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera – already support the WebP format. However, Safari and Internet Explorer are not yet supported.

Considering current trends, we expect these paths to follow soon.

Another problem for a webmaster who wants to use this format for their website is that WordPress currently does not support WebP images.

You can’t just upload WebP files to your WordPress media library.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use this format. So, you need the help of a plugin to do this.

WebP images History

WebP was officially unveiled by Google on September 3, 2010, with the company confirming that the format is based on technology acquired with the purchase of On2 Technologies.

The standard is derived from the open, royalty-free VP8 video format, operating as a sister project to the WebM container, which is also open.

The task would be easy; others would not have tried to break the JPEG hegemony, which since the 90s, the most popular formats were already images.

jpeg 2000 logo

Something is something I would try to achieve with the release of the JPEG00 code. But, because of its complexity, the pattern never came to fruition.

The Windows maker even tried to venture into the market with the X JPEGR, which offered no-weight loss s and greater color accuracy. However, the standard was never adopted by any camera or supported by browsers other than Internet Explorer and Edge, both from Microsoft itself.

jpeg xr symbol image represented by green plants

Vivid image served as the symbol of JPEG XR, highlighting the format’s greater color accuracy.

Learning from mistakes

But the folks at Google learned from the mistakes of previous standards, and the company created a long-term plan to promote WebP. Right from the start, they negotiated with those responsible for the main browsers on the market to add support for the format.

It also helped that Google is the developer of Chrome, the most used browser on the most popular operating systems since that time.

In 2011, WebP gained an “Extended File Format” update, which brought support for several elements. These include the ability to display animations, the ICC color profile, and the inclusion of XMP and Exif metadata systems.

In the same year, the format gained a new lossless compression mode and support for transparencies — matching features with competitors such as JPEG and PNG.

In August 2021, over 95% of internet users used a WebP-compatible browser.

How to use WebP images in WordPress

You can display WebP images in WordPress using WebP Express. Here is a tutorial on how to install a plugin in WordPress.

The WebP Express plugin uses the WebP Convert Library to modify images. This plugin serves as a converter that gears WebP to browsers that support this format but displays JPG or PNG for browsers that do not.

WebP images express plugin settings page

You can also use the Optimal plugin to help you convert images for browsers that support WebP. This plugin will optimize your WebP images and provide them to users via a CDN.

You can also use the Photon API to do the same thing as an alternative to plugins. And will instantly convert your JPEG and PNG images to your desired format with this API.

So, keep in mind that you can only use this API for sites hosted on WordPress.com or WordPress sites connected with Jetpack.

What is a WebP file?

Google introduced the WebP format as part of its mission to reduce web load times. So, WebP allows websites to display high-quality images with much smaller file sizes than traditional formats like PNG and JPEG.

So, you can choose to save WebP files with lossless or lossy compression. This means you can compress an image without losing data or lose some non-essential information. Google’s developers have suggested that lossless WebP images can be up to 26% smaller than PNGs.

You can quickly tell whether a file is a WebP image by looking out for the WEBP extension.

History of the WebP file

The WebP format is relatively new, dating back to 2010. On2 Technologies — a company acquired by Google — created the original concept.

Each WebP file consists of VP8 or VP8L image data. So, over the years, the format has evolved to keep pace with shifting consumer habits and emerging digital trends. For example, Google added support for animation and transparency in 2011, and the format is now compatible with web browsers beyond just Google products.

Google Chrome natively supports WebP and other web browsers like Firefox, Edge, and Opera. However, it also encourages web developers and designers to convert PNG and JPEG files to WebP to speed up page loading times.

How to use WebP files

WebP files were designed entirely with the internet in mind. Their main uses include:

Reducing website image sizes

WebP aims to balance quality and practicality when it comes to website images. With the help of predictive coding, WebP files compress photos and graphics without reducing the quality of their appearance. Smaller image sizes also ease the strain on user broadband connections and make websites faster to navigate, improving page experience.

Supporting online animations

While GIFs have long been the dominant format for memes and other basic online animations, WebP files offer an alternative. According to Google, an animated WebP can be significantly smaller than a GIF, requiring fewer bytes.

Pros and cons of WebP images files

It’s worth looking at the WebP advantages and disadvantages before starting this file format.

Advantages of WebP files

  • Faster-loading webpages offer a better user experience and even boost a website’s ranking in search engines. In contrast, websites with slow-loading images might encourage users to look elsewhere when shopping for products and services.
  • So, the WebP format is highly compatible with various web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox.
  • WebP can free up disk space for businesses by compressing website images more manageable.

Disadvantages of WebP files

  • The WebP file format is designed mainly with the internet, so it might not be helpful if you use images offline.
  •  Some older browsers, like Internet Explorer, may not be as effective in supporting WebP images, despite the format’s broad compatibility.
  •  Even a small amount of compression can reduce the quality of an image, which is worth keeping in mind if you work with professional photographers and high-quality images.

How to open a WebP file

Therefore, WebP images can often be viewed faster in the browser than in the built-in photo application.

Before opening a WebP file, first, make sure you have a compatible browser. So, open the folder where you saved the WebP file and double-click it once set up. The image will then automatically open in your default browser.

You also can convert existing files such as PNGs and JPEGs to the WebP format. Again, you can find a range of converter tools online.

How to create and edit a WebP file

You may require a plugin to create and edit WebP files using Adobe Photoshop. So, once you’ve installed a trusted plugin that’s compatible with your device, follow these steps:

  • Create or edit the image using Photoshop, then click Save As.
  • Save the file as WebP from the Format menu.
  • Choose a name and location for the new WebP file and click Save.
  • A settings box will appear where you can further edit the file.

WebP files: frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between WebP and JPEG files?

Both file types compress images to make them easier to share and store. However, a WebP file is generally much smaller than a traditional JPEG. Google’sFor example, developers suggest that a WebP image with lossy compression could be 25% to 34% smaller than a comparable JPEG file.

Does WebP work on all browsers?

After years of development and evolution, most web browsers support the WebP format. But some browsers, like Internet Explorer, may still struggle to support a WebP file, so it’s always worth checking Google’s latest compatibility list.

Is WebP an open-source file format?

WebP is an open-source model, which means anyone can work on the format and improve it. Google’s developers have actively encouraged users to offer their input since its launch in 2010.

Does a WebP image have a maximum size?

The maximum size of WebP images is 16,383 x 16,383 pixels. So, this may be a factor to consider before you add WebP images to a website or elsewhere.

Are WebP images raster or vector files?

WebP images are a type of raster file. Raster is one of the two main categories of image files — the other being vector. The main difference is that raster files consist of individual pixels, whereas vector graphics consist of mathematical equations and paths. 


Now you have learned about the WebP format, which will help you have smaller sizes and richer quality images on your website.

You will probably want to start using this format for your images as it helps your site load them much faster. This also gives more room for your bandwidth quota, especially if you use any images on your site.

Despite its limitations, you can always use plugins to help convert these images. Let us know in the comments if this tutorial was helpful to you!