What Is WebP and What Makes it Different from Other Image Formats?

Posted on by Joseph Molloy
Reading Time: 4 minutes

WebP is a popular image format that provides both lossless and lossy image compression for the web. It was designed by Google to improve and replace the JPEG, PNG, and GIF image formats.

With WebP, you can make your web images smaller or serve them at a higher level of quality. In turn, this can significantly reduce your website's loading time.

To get a better idea of just how effective the WebP image format is, you should compare it to PNG and JPEG. Thankfully, you don’t need to test it manually, as Google already did a study on this topic.

As it turns out, WebP lossless images are 26% smaller compared to the most popular lossless image format, PNG. Furthermore, when compared to the famous lossy image format, JPEG, WebP takes up 25%-34% less space.

You’ll also be happy to learn that WebP supports transparency and animations. This makes it an effective replacement for GIFs, as well as a great format for photo and image editors.

What are the Advantages of WebP for Images?

The WebP image format offers a number of advantages:

  • It supports transparency in both lossless and lossy formats.
  • It can produce a higher level of image quality for the same file size compared to other image formats.
  • It can save space by producing images with significantly smaller file sizes compared to the other image formats.
  • It’s supported by all modern web browsers and devices.
  • It makes websites run faster by reducing the file sizes of your images.
  • It reduces the hosting bandwidth costs and makes the web more energy efficient.
  • Indirectly, faster websites lead to more sales and better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) scores.

How to Create and Optimize Images for Use with WebP?

One of the best ways to optimize images on your website with WebP is with the official WebP tool called cwebp. In the following example, you will learn how to use cwebp on Windows in just five easy steps.

Step 1. Download the App

Step 2. Extract the Files

Extract the app's directory from its archive using archive extraction software such as WinRAR. In this example, you will extract the libwebp-1.3.0 directory to C:\.

Step 3. Open the Command Line Interface

Start the command line interface (CLI) by typing cmd in your taskbar’s search feature, followed by pressing the Enter key.

Step 4. Learn the Commands

The official list of cwebp commands helps you understand what cwebp is capable of and how to use it.

Step 5. Start Converting

Now you’re ready to convert and compress an image to the WebP format using the following command.

cwebp [options] input_file -o output_file.webp

So, let’s explore some examples of common cwebp commands that you can run from CLI.

  • Convert an image to WebP.
C:\libwebp-1.3.0\bin\cwebp C:\image.png -o C:\image.webp
  • Convert an image to WebP without any loss of quality.
C:\libwebp-1.3.0\bin\cwebp -lossless C:\image.png -o C:\image.webp
  • Convert an image to WebP with a target size in bytes (sample with 20 kilobytes).
C:\libwebp-1.3.0\bin\cwebp -size 20480 C:\image.png -o C:\image.webp
  • Convert an image to WebP with a specific compression factor (0-100).
C:\libwebp-1.3.0\bin\cwebp -q 90 C:\image.png -o C:\image.webp

Increasing the compression factor in lossy mode will produce a smaller file of lower quality. In lossless mode, it will produce a larger file but in a shorter amount of time. The default is 75.

That’s it. You’ve just mastered the basics of WebP conversion.

What Tools are Available for Working with WebP Images?

A number of tools are available for WebP image compression, including desktop apps, web apps, WordPress plugins, and more. Read on to learn more about them.

cwebp

cwebp is the official WebP desktop app that was released by Google. It’s free to use and available for all three major desktop operating systems, namely Windows, Linux, and macOS.

This app offers the largest number of features and customization options for .webp image compression but lacks the convenience of a modern user interface. So, in order to use cwebp, you will need to run and operate it via the terminal.

CloudConvert

CloudConvert is a web app that offers various file conversion tools, including WebP conversion. Its features include a drag-and-drop interface, custom quality setting (web compression level), and batch file processing.

CloudConvert’s WebP converter is free to use and doesn’t require you to register before using it.

Pixelied

Pixelied is an image editor in the form of a web app with a whole host of image tools and features. Its WebP converter features include a drag-and-drop interface, custom quality setting, and batch file processing.

Pixelied’s WebP converter is free to use and doesn’t require you to register before using it.

AnyWebP

AnyWebP is a .webp image converter that’s available both as a web app and a desktop app for Windows and Mac. Its features include a drag-and-drop interface, custom quality setting, and batch file processing.

AnyWebP converter is free to use and doesn’t require you to register before using it.

ShortPixel

ShortPixel is one of the most popular WordPress image optimization plugins and a great way for WordPress users to easily convert their images to WebP. It supports both lossless and lossy formats and comes with plenty of extra features.

ShortPixel offers 100 free .webp image conversions per month, after which you need to pay $4.99 for 5,000 additional image credits. There’s also a web app version of this software, which is free and doesn’t require you to register to start using it.

Tips for Ensuring Your Site Loads Quickly with WebP Images 

To ensure that your website loads fast by taking advantage of WebP compression, read the following tips:

Compress your images

Pick a WebP conversion tool and compress your images to save space and improve page speed.

Find a good quality-to-size ratio

Take your time and experiment with different compression levels and types. Some images might be able to handle lossy compression better than others. But more importantly, don’t forget to test how your images appear on different screen sizes.

Test your website’s performance

Now that you’ve converted your images to WebP, it’s time to test your website’s page speed. Before you upload the new images, run an initial speed test with Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix.

Once you get the results, replace your old images with WebP, and run a second test. This test will show you exactly how much your site has benefited from WebP compression.

Final Thoughts

WebP is a popular image format developed by Google to replace traditional image formats such as PNG, JPEG, and GIF. It offers a range of advantages that make websites more efficient, reduce hosting bandwidth costs, and ultimately lead to better SEO scores and more sales.

WebP offers both lossless and lossy image compression, resulting in smaller file sizes and faster website loading times. It also comes with animation support, making it an effective replacement for GIFs.

A number of tools are available for compressing images to WebP, such as cwebp, CloudConvert, Pixelied, AnyWebP, and ShortPixel. So, whichever platform you’re using, you are likely to find a WebP app that suits your needs.

Finally, to ensure your website loads quickly with WebP, you should find a good quality-to-size ratio and test the website performance using Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix.

Avatar for Joseph Molloy

About the Author: Joseph Molloy

Liquid Web Security Operations tech Joseph spends his days cleaning up malware and doing his part to keep the Internet safe. He is interested in all things Linux and always looking for something new to learn. In addition, he enjoys cooking and playing guitar, is an avid horror and sci-fi reader, and is a fan of black metal music.

Latest Articles

Controlling PHP settings with a custom php.ini file

Read Article

How to install Puppet Server on Linux (AlmaLinux)

Read Article

Email security best practices for using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

Read Article

Linux dos2unix command syntax — removing hidden Windows characters from files

Read Article

Change cPanel password from WebHost Manager (WHM)

Read Article