Image File Formats: When to Use the Appropriate Format in Your Designs

Posted on
March 15, 2021

If you have a solid product or service, but it hasn’t taken off, rethink your brand design to create something easy to remember that meets the needs of your users. Visual elements capture the attention of the visitors and, in many cases, offer an evident added value, revaluing the projects while highlighting the information in the texts, clarifying the contents, offering additional data (in the case of computer graphics, for example) or acting as elements that invite reflection.

Sooner or later, the need to use images as part of your digital marketing strategy will arise. And that's when we come across several strange acronyms that don't make much sense at first glance. You know, the ones that come at the end of the filename that doesn’t seem to make much difference. But they do! 

What are image file formats?

Optimize your website with the right image format

To begin with, there are two types of images: Bitmap and vector.

  • Bitmap. It is one of the most common types of images. Bitmaps are images made up of several tiny points (pixels). Each pixel has a color and, through X and Y coordinates, these colored pixels make an image. The photos are bitmaps.
  • Vectors. They are images formed by points. Vectors are infinitely scalable. You can enlarge a vector as much as you want, as there is no loss of resolution in the process. In fact, vectors present a lesser amount of detail than a bitmap because of their limitations. However, some artists develop techniques using vectors that approximate the graphic of real photos. 

Now that we know the difference between these two types of files, let's learn about the different image formats.

What are the most famous image formats?

  • BMP. The bitmap images were popular in the 1990s. A bitmap is a binary representation in which bits correspond to some part of an object.
  • TIFF. It is a file format for printing. It is very versatile and maintains the resolution, enables the use of layers, among others, but TIF files have a large size. This means that it isn't suitable for digital use.
  • JPEG. Also known as JPG, it is the most famous of the formats used digitally. Its adjustable compression rate is what encourages its use in digital media.
  • GIF. Graphics Interchange Format was the first image format with a high compression rate because it significantly reduced the size of the images and made fast downloading possible. The use of GIFs at the beginning of the internet was the possibility of having images with a transparent background (alpha channel) and also because it could be a non-static medium. Nowadays, GIFs are practically a synonym for animation. This format allows several images to display in sequence, generating a clip without audio and animated GIFs have a very high hookup rate because they tend to be funny. 
  • PNG. The acronym stands for Portable Network Graphics. Although PNG doesn’t support animations, it has several advantages over GIF. It has more color variation than GIFs (which is only 256 colors) and it also has the additional alpha channel, which even allows for opacity variations. This is currently one of the most suitable formats to use in your digital strategies, as it has an adequate bit size and keeps the quality of the images very high!
  • PDF. Portable Document Format was created by Adobe in 1993. There was a need for a universal file type, which would work regardless of the software or the operating system, its resolution and size. PDFs are very versatile, because they can store bitmaps, vectors, texts, and they can have several pages, among countless other functions.
  • SVG. Scalable Vector Graphics. The SVG format is an excellent choice, especially for graphics containing symbols (e.g. logos). Also, it is a vector format recognized by most modern web browsers. So, you can use that format on your website, blog, etc. Another interesting feature of SVG is that it works as animations through HTML 5.0 programming. 
  • PSD. Adobe offers, among others, the proprietary PSD format (Photoshop Document) for the storage of graphic projects developed with Photoshop. This format secures the information regarding layers, channels or vectors, which allows you to edit later. In this way, it’s possible to edit the layers, duplicate, move or delete. You can save both the layers and the corresponding image in the same PSD file without loss. This image format is particularly practical for graphics with a high recognition value, such as logos or banners, which you have to adapt quickly and as required to the individual platforms and screen sizes.
  • RAW. The RAW format is the most widely used format for professional photo shooting. This file has no loss or compression, so it is the most suitable for professional use to develop the image in the most comprehensive way possible. This is the ideal file to develop photos precisely because, as it is not compressed, it allows a more forceful edition with the greatest possible margin of error.
  • AI. The native format of Adobe Illustrator is AI, a modified version of the older EPS format. The AI format is quite compatible and most programs can read the AI format.
  • EPS. Adobe's EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) format is a common vector image format. It's the standard exchange format in the printing industry. It's a widely supported format, but due to the complexity of specifying the entire form, not all programs that claim to be EPS-compatible can import all its variants. 

Hit the road and choose the most efficient format for you!

Evaluate which formats are most interesting for your strategy! The best image format is the one that matches your final objective. There are many types of images and types of file formats, and each one has its main function.

Therefore, if you want to make an animation, you must use a GIF, if what you are looking for is an image with the maximum quality a RAW is your choice. As you can see, depending on what you are looking for, there is an option. In any case, we are specialists at making animations and awesome images, we’ll be glad to help you.

Contact us today, and bring your brand to life!  

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