Progressive JPGs: What They Are and Why Your Website Should Use Them
June 28, 2021

What image format does your website predominantly use? Statistics from OptinMonster show that pages with images generate nearly twice the traffic as text-only pages. Rather than standard Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG) images, though, you should consider switching to progressive JPGs. Progressive JPGs may look the same, but they offer several advantages over standard JPGs.


What Are Progressive JPGs?


Progressive JPGs are JPGs that use a specific type of compression algorithm. Known as a progressive compression algorithm, it changes the way in which JPGs are rendered. Web browsers don't render progressive JPGs from partially by starting at the top and working their way to the bottom. Rather, they render progressive JPGs wholly and progressively.


Upon landing on a page with a progressive JPG, visitors' web browsers will begin to render the whole image. They won't instantly render each pixel within the image. Whether it's a header, footer, an infographic or any other image, visitors' web browsers must download it. Progressive JPGs simply allow web browsers to render them wholly while they being downloaded.


Baseline vs Progressive


All JPGs use a compression algorithm. There are two primary types of compression algorithms for JPGs: baseline and progressive. Baseline is used for creating standard JPGs, whereas progressive is used for creating progressive JPGs.


Both baseline and progressive compression algorithms will shrink the file size of images. They differ, though, in regards to rendering. Standard JPGs created with a baseline compression algorithm are rendered partially. Starting at the top, web browsers will render standard images in horizontal slices. If it's a 640x480 standard JPG, web browsers will progressively render 640-pixel-wide slices of the image until the image has been fully downloaded.


Web browsers render progressive JPEGs differently. They will immediately render the entire dimensions of a progressive JPG. Progressive JPGs may appear blurry at first, but they'll become clearer as web browsers download them. In the case of a 640x480 progressive JPG, web browsers will display the entire 640-pixel-wide and 480-pixel-tall image when visitors land on the page. While downloading the progressive JPG, web browsers will complete the image so that it becomes clearer.


Benefits of Using Progressive JPGs


Your website will offer a better mobile device experience for visitors if it uses progressive JPGs. According to Perficient, over 68 percent of all website traffic is mobile. Mobile devices have web browsers that can download and render images just like desktop computers. The Problem with standard JPGs is that they are often displayed as partially empty spaces on mobile devices.


Due to their small size, mobile devices can't display as much content on screen as desktop monitors. If a page contains animage, it may encompass one-quarter to one-half of a mobile device's screen. Standard JPGs don't renter wholly like their progressive counterparts.Therefore, visitors may only see the very top of a standard JPG when using a mobile device. The remaining middle and bottom parts of the standard JPG will be left blank.


Another benefit of using progressive JPGs is faster page loading. Baseline JPGs are about 5 percent to 15 percent smaller file size than standard JPGs. A smaller file size means less data. Visitors can load pages more quickly if they feature progressive JPGs thanks to this smaller file size.


Large and poorly optimized images will make your website load slowly. While standard JPGs are smaller and better optimized than many other formats, they fall short of progressive JPGs. Progressive JPGs are almost always smaller in file size, and because they render wholly, they are also better optimized.


Using progressive JPGs may lift your website's organic search rankings. They'll improve your website's mobile device experience while making it load faster for all visitors in the process. Mobile device experience and speed are ranking signals used in Google's proprietary algorithm. Google will consider these factors when determining where to rank your website. With progressive JPGs, your website will load quickly and offer apositive mobile device experience, so it may rank higher in the organic search results.


Getting Started With Progressive JPGs


To take advantage of this alternative compression algorithm, you need to convert your website's standard JPGs into progressive JPGs. Adobe Photoshop has a built-in conversion tool for progressive JPGs. Just open a standard JPG in Adobe Photoshop and choose the "Save As" option. After entering a name and selecting "JPG" for the format, find the format options section. In this section, you should see a button labeled "Progressive," which you can select to save the image as a progressive JPG.


There are several web-based baseline-to-progressive conversion tools available as well. There's a conversion tool at, for instance. Just drag a standard JPG from your computer to the tool's interface, after which it will provide you with a link to download the newly converted progressive JPG. You can even see how much data was saved during the conversion.


Of course, you probably don't need to convert all of your website's standard JPGs into progressive JPGs. Standard JPGs are fine if they have a small file size. Web browsers will render them in the blink of an eye, so visitors won't notice any empty space while standard JPGs load. But for large images, making the switch to progressive JPGs is well worth the effort.


Whether you use Adobe Photoshop or any other conversion tool, you'll still need to upload the progressive JPGs to your website. Locate the original and standard JPGs on your website. Assuming you've already converted them, you can delete them, followed by uploading the progressive JPGs in their place. To ensure they work, you can visit the pages on which the progressive JPGs are published.


Not all JPGs are the same. There are standard JPGs, and there are progressive JPGs. While they both use a lossy compression algorithm, progressive JPGs are designed to render wholly and progressively, whereas standard JPGs are designed to render slice by slice. Using progressive JPGs can improve your website's speed, mobile device experience and even its organic search rankings.

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