Compared to the days when it took several minutes for a page full of photos to load, images don’t pose much of a problem anymore. Still, they can create a delay, and so Web developers who don’t want to keep site visitors waiting should be glad to hear that Google’s created an alternative image format to JPEG.
Google named the format WebP (pronounced “weppy”), and it released a developer preview yesterday if you feel like playing around with it.
As for why you should, a post on the Chromium Blog explained, “In order to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts, we randomly picked about 1,000,000 images from the web (mostly JPEGs and some PNGs and GIFs) and re-encoded them to WebP without perceptibly compromising visual quality. This resulted in an average 39% reduction in file size.”
Plus, “We expect that developers will achieve in practice even better file size reduction with WebP when starting from an uncompressed image.”
So again, WebP should help Web developers reduce load times by a noticeable amount. It’s possible the new format will lead to reduced bandwidth and hosting costs, too, depending on how many images are at stake.
More technical details are available here if you’re interested. Otherwise, it should just be interesting to see if/when WebP becomes an accepted file format.