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WebP Support comes to WordPress

WebP Support comes to WordPress

As of version 5.8, WordPress now supports the WebP image format.

Converting a jpg to the new WebP image format

To quote from the official WordPress release statement

WebP is a modern image format that provides improved lossless and lossy compression for images on the web. WebP images are around 30% smaller on average than their JPEG or PNG equivalents, resulting in sites that are faster and use less bandwidth. WebP is supported in all modern browsers according to caniuse.

Why should you care?

If you want your WordPress site to be blazingly fast, reducing the file size of your images offers a significant chance for improvement. On average, images take up about half of a webpage’s file size, so even reducing their file sizes slightly can result in massive speed improvements. WebP can help you with that!

WebP is a (relatively) modern image format that can help you reduce the size of your images without changing the visible quality. On average, convert an image to WebP correctly can shrink its file size by ~20-40% with no discernible loss in quality!

Furthermore, WebP supports image transparency without increasing the file size anywhere near as much as png’s do.

Any catches?

Most modern web browsers support WebP out of the box, but some of the older versions of Safari won’t work with it and to quote from the official WordPress release statement again –

In WordPress, the lossless WebP format is only supported when the hosting server uses Imagick until LibGD adds support. In addition, animated and alpha formats are not yet supported for resized images (lossy images are created instead when you upload in these formats)…If your audience includes a significant number of users on an unsupported browser (IE11 for example), either avoid using WebP images, or enqueue a browser polyfill.

With that being said, as it currently stands, in total, around 95% of Internet users use a web browser which supports WebP. So it certainly has majority support, but do keep in mind that 5% is still a minor hurdle, especially the Safari users on older macOS versions. 

The current support for the WebP image format according to the caniuse website

Supporting WebP is a big milestone for WordPress that will help website owners get better Google Page Experience scores, and happy customers too!

Is WebP the best image format?

That really depends on your usage case. As the name suggests, it’s a format designed for the web, so if you’re wanting to print the image, stay well clear of WebP, however if you’re using it on the web then WebP is certainly worth considering. There is another, even newer image format called AVIF which has even better performance than WebP in some instances, but it’s not get the same level of browser support at the time of writing, so for the moment we would not advise using it, but it’s one to keep an eye on for the future. Jake Archibald has a good article on the AVIF format if you want to fine out more.

In our humble opinion, it’s these kinds of support updates and improvements which keep WordPress at the forefront of content management systems.

If you need any help getting a WordPress website up and running or if you’d like an old site to be given a performance tune up, feel free to get in touch with us.