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Chapter 5. Optimization and sizing > Choose the best file formats for the web

Choose the best file formats for the web

Talk with almost anyone involved in the design and production of websites and you're bound to become the proud owner of yet another informed opinion detailing the best file formats to use for image quality and speed of display. Some will say GIFs, others JPEG, and inevitably an “early adopter,” a true maverick in the world of image preparation for the web, will hail the virtues of PNG. Once and for all, let's see what the current intelligence is on the subject so you can proceed with the business of providing image files that load quickly and look great on the World Wide Web.

A primer on three popular file formats

File formats for the web are designed to use very few bits of information and, as a consequence, process graphics quickly. That's always the main objective when working with files for the web—speed. Yet, the importance of speed must be balanced with image quality. Is the logo legible? Is the photo attractive? Are the colors accurate? To make effective choices with web files, you need to understand the basic features and limitations of each popular file format. We'll look at GIF first.


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