How Does SVG Enhance Web Performance?

By November 12, 2017May 28th, 2020Web Design

The SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file format was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to provide a royalty-free, vendor-neutral standard for vector graphics on the internet.

It represents a major improvement over the previous raster or bitmap images. W3C set SVG as the standard in 1999, and it continues to be the source of 2D graphics.

Also, SVG is faster then PNG or JPEG formats.

Vector graphics vs bitmap raster images, Infographic.

The Scalability of SVG

One of the most valuable features of SVG is that the graphic/image can be scaled without compromising the quality. Magnifying or reducing an image usually makes no difference in the resolution and detail. The image should maintain its crisp edges and is accessible through the browser.

The scalability of SVG is crucial in today’s markets. Websites these days are required to be responsive, clearly displaying the desired information on everything from desktop monitors to handheld devices.

With SVG, website graphics can be mobile-friendly. This means any graphics on the page can change size according to the size of the screen being viewed.

With SVG, one image is all that is necessary for a responsive design, so there is no need for multiple copies of the same image in different sizes.

The Web Performance of SVG

SVG is also quite versatile. The graphics can be animated, adding interest and value to the content. Filters can also be applied, and the whole thing can be controlled with scripting.

See the Pen SVG Sprite Animation by Mark Nelson (@marknelson) on CodePen.

The predominance of SVG on internet content is often underestimated. On some websites, such as Google Search, the search type tabs that allow a user to select between text search, image search, video search and so on, are all using SVG icons as you can see in the screenshot below.

The red highlighted code is the SVG code for those icons.

SVG code for Icons

Another, less interactive function of SVG is in many of the graphics found on websites. This can include the company logo, icons (as we saw above) or vector pattern fills in the page background.

Using SVG

A developer can use any of the below tools to create SVG graphics.

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Corel Draw
  • Inkscape

In addition, all major browsers support SVG, including:

SVG browser support

Visit here to learn more about browser support.

You can create a graphic in Adobe Illustrator and convert it to SVG or style it with CSS at a later date.

Some of the special effects may not make it through the transition, so sometimes it is necessary to experiment with such effects as gradients and blending modes.

The more intricate and complicated the image becomes, the bigger the file gets, which defeats one of the purposes of using SVG.

If you have a large SVG file and wish to optimize its size for a better performance read this step-by-step tutorial. How to optimize an SVG file step-by-step.

A Pointers to Keep In Mind

As web design evolves, the use of vector graphics will affect the load-time and performance of a website. If the developer can do as much work as possible with this file format, then web performance will be enhanced because only one image has to be downloaded. A mixture of tools and images from different sources will require a separate download for each image, which most consumers have little patience for.

With vector graphics, the content can be saved as an SVG file. Be careful, though, when transferring a graphic done in Adobe Illustrator to older versions of Photoshop, because the graphic may be converted to a raster image. This increases the file size and reduces scalability. The SVG images can also be saved on a spreadsheet for easier access.


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