As of version 5.8, WordPress now supports the WebP image format.
To quote from the official WordPress release statement
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.
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 –
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.
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.