A Love-Hate Relationship with WEBP, Even Though It's Smaller Than JPG, PNG, GIF?

The Benefits of the WEBP Format

WEBP is an image format developed by Google. Its biggest advantage is that it can achieve significantly smaller file sizes compared to other formats while maintaining the same image quality. This means it has the potential to reduce page load times and improve user experience, especially in web environments.

  1. Reduced File Size: WEBP can deliver images with the same quality at smaller file sizes. This helps reduce network traffic and improve webpage loading speed.

  2. Flexible Compression Options: WEBP supports both lossy and lossless compression, allowing you to choose the appropriate compression method based on the image's purpose.

  3. Broad Feature Support: WEBP supports transparency like PNG and animation like GIF, enabling you to handle various types of images with a single format.

Network Efficiency

Most modern devices, including PCs and smartphones, have overwhelmingly faster processing power and larger memory compared to the past. However, reducing image transfer size in web pages and apps remains important, especially in regions with poor network conditions. WEBP offers a solution to this problem.

Drawbacks and Compatibility Issues

However, the WEBP format is not perfect. The lack of support for Animated WEBP in Safari browsers is particularly noticeable. This issue arises because Safari doesn't support certain GPU-related features, resulting in WEBP images not displaying properly in Safari on macOS and all web browsers on iOS.

  1. Browser Compatibility: Some older browsers do not support WEBP. Especially in Safari, there are issues with rendering Animated WEBP, which can degrade user experience.

  2. Increased Processing Requirements: WEBP requires more processing power for rendering compared to traditional image formats. However, with the performance improvements in modern devices, this may not be a significant problem.

Wise Approach to Using WEBP

In my opinion, the claim that "WEBP should never be used" is clearly extreme. Instead, it's advisable to maintain JPG, PNG, and GIF as the primary image formats, but consider WEBP as an additional option if image size is a critical factor for your website. This approach can improve both user experience and network usage.

Considering these limitations, completely excluding WEBP is not ideal. Instead, it's necessary to use it appropriately based on the situation.

  1. Provide Fallback Images: When using WEBP images, it's always a good practice to provide fallback images in formats like JPG, PNG, or GIF. This ensures that images are displayed correctly in browsers that don't support WEBP.

  2. Prioritize WEBP When Image Size is Critical: If image size has a significant impact on website performance, consider prioritizing the adoption of WEBP. This can help reduce network usage and improve user experience.

  3. Exercise Caution with Animated WEBP: Until the rendering issues with Animated WEBP in Safari are resolved, it's important to be cautious when using WEBP for animated images. Provide fallback images or use alternative formats. In my personal experience, for Safari browsers, I have prepared MP4 files corresponding to WEBP and used the <img /> tag to display them inline, similar to videos.


WEBP is a useful tool for reducing image transfer size and improving user experience on the web. However, it's not a perfect solution that fits all situations.

Web developers should understand both the advantages and limitations of WEBP and use it wisely based on the situation. Rather than replacing existing formats, it's better to consider a gradual adoption that complements them. Additionally, always prioritize user experience and strive to achieve the best results across diverse environments.

WEBP is a valuable tool for the future of the web, but it requires judicious use that balances current technological environments and user needs.