What is PNG?
PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and is a common format for saving image files. The PNG format is often used for images on the web or when making a website because it offers two main benefits. First of all, PNG files can have a transparent background, meaning no distracting white box around the image. Second, similar to a .GIF file, a PNG file is lossless, meaning it maintains its image quality even after being compressed.
What is a PNG file used for?
A PNG file is commonly used for web graphics and digital images. It supports lossless compression, meaning it maintains high image quality while reducing file size. PNGs are ideal for images with transparency, allowing designers to create graphics with elements that appear translucent. This format is well-suited for logos, icons and illustrations, providing a crisp and detailed representation. Unlike JPEG, PNG doesn't sacrifice image quality for compression, making it suitable for graphics where precision and transparency are crucial, while also being widely supported across various software and browsers. This make it a popular format in website design.
The difference between PNG and JPG
PNG files maintain a high level of image quality, but are generally large in size. Alternatively, an image in JPEG or JPG format is compressed or “lossy,” which means that it has lost some of its original quality. PNG files also support a transparent background around an object, while JPGs will have a box-shape.
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How to choose whether to use a PNG or a JPG File
PNG files offer maximum quality and the benefit of a transparent background. Their large size, however, can contribute to slower loading times on the web. JPG files are good to use when quality is less important and if fast loading time and page speed is a top priority.
Benefits of using PNG
If you're considering whether to use PNG files in your web design or not it's worth considering the benefits of doing so.
Because they use lossless compression (this just means that image data is not lost when a file is compressed and compressing an image doesn't affect it's quality), PNG file's can be reduced in size without sacrificing quality.
PNG files support transparency. What does that mean? It means you can create an image with a transparent background and then save it as PNG. This works especially well for logos, icons and other images with backgrounds.
PNG files are widely supported by web browsers and other applications, so you don't have to worry about how well they are displayed across different platforms.
Drawbacks to using PNG
Despite the many benefits of using PNG files, there are a few cons. PNG files tend to be larger than other formats, because of their use of lossless compression. The file size doesn't change even when the image is compressed.
Another potential con is the fact that PNG files are patented and using them means paying licensing fees. However in general these fees tend to be reasonably low and not a huge blocker to using this type of file.
PNG file FAQ
What does lossless compression mean in relation to a PNG file?
Lossless compression means that when an image is saved as a PNG file, no image data is lost during compression. This results in high image quality without the artifacts or loss of detail often seen in other formats like JPEG.