SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (2023)

If you aren’t using SVG files in your web design projects, you’ve got a lot of untapped potential just waiting to be unlocked.

SVGs can free up bandwidth, improve page speeds, and boost SEO performance — if you know when and how to leverage them.

In this quick guide, we’ll cover the basics of SVG files and when they’re likely to be your best image format option.

What is an SVG file?

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic and it’s a 2D image or graphic file type.

SVG files use mathematical equations and sets of rules about shapes, lines, and elements to produce graphics. SVGs are essentially XML code explaining shapes that should be displayed, the colors that should be exhibited, and where each shape should appear in relation to other shapes within a file.

The SVG markup language was developed starting in the 90s by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Proposals from six different teams played a role in the development of SVG, along with a heavy influence by Chris Lilley (W3C) and Jon Ferraiolo (Adobe).

4 benefits of using SVG files in web design

SVGs and other vector graphics are fundamentally different from raster graphics, such as jpegs or png files, which rely on pixels to communicate visual information. There are four major benefits to using SVG files in particular.

1. Clarity

SVG files are infinitely scalable. You can increase the size of SVG files and resize them as many times as you want without losing clarity — a huge benefit over raster images, which can become blurry or look grainy if they aren’t sized properly.

(Video) What is an SVG File (And How Do You Use it)?

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (1)

2. Versatility

Not only can SVG files be resized multiple times during the editing stage without losing clarity, but it’s relatively simple to produce responsive SVG files that look good on any device, even if the viewer zooms in on a web page. The versatility of SVG files makes them a great choice for logos and simple infographics. You can also use SVG files for animations, and they can be particularly useful for designing fonts with unique color schemes and gradients.

3. Smaller file sizes

SVG file sizes can be much smaller than a PNG or a JPG of the same image, depending on the complexity of the graphic or the number of paths within a design. According to Vecta.io, SVG files can be 60 to 80% smaller than PNGs, which can help keep load times to a minimum, helping you deliver a better user experience (UX). Faster page speeds are also better for website SEO.

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (2)

The Sad Zebra design pictured above was created in Adobe illustrator and exported for use on a website first as an SVG file, and then as a PNG (note that the side-by-side image above is a jpg). The resulting PNG file was 82 KB (with dimensions of 1911 x 1387 pixels). The SVG file, in contrast, was just 8 KB (and did not have set dimensions because SVG files are responsive by default).

4. Accessibility and inclusivity

SVG files offer several benefits when it comes to accessibility and inclusivity. Designers can add structural data describing the visual elements in a graphic within the SVG file itself, which can help people using certain assistive technology better understand what is contained within an image. Alternatively, raster files rely solely on metadata (i.e., alt text) to describe the contents of a graphic to screen readers and similar assistive devices.

Scalability is a benefit to users as well as creators. People who have low vision can zoom in on SVG files without the file becoming blurry. Go ahead and try zooming in on the image below (which is an SVG file).

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (3)

(Video) Cricut SVG Files - What are they and how to use them.

SVG files also offer accessibility and inclusivity benefits to designers and developers because there are a variety of methods for creating and editing them. You can edit SVG files without knowing how to code by using design tools like Adobe Illustrator. You can also edit the XML code directly in a plain text editor and easily incorporate SVGs into your HTML or CSS. You can find much more information on the accessibility features of SVG files on the W3C website.

When to use SVG vs. other image formats

There are 4 common image file formats used on the web, and while SVGs have many benefits, they’re not the best choice for all use cases. SVG files are great for simple graphics and illustrations, but they’re not ideal for highly detailed images. If you’re designing a website for a professional photographer, you’re not going to want to upload portfolios in SVG format.

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (4)

For highly detailed photographs or intricate images, you’ll probably want to go with PNG, JPG, or JPEG files. When it comes to animations, GIFs and SVGs are awesome. It’s also relatively simple to include a transparent background in SVG, PNG, and GIF files.

SVG files are great for web design but aren’t supported by some word processor and spreadsheet software. At the time of writing this, for example, Google Docs does not support SVG files.

Also, while recent versions of leading web browsers (such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox) support SVG files, people surfing the web from older browsers may have trouble viewing them. SVG files may not be your best choice for email campaigns either, since some email providers only partially support SVG files, or don’t support them at all (as of March 2022).

What programs can open and edit SVG files?

There are lots of free and paid programs you can use to open, edit, and convert SVG files. Here are just a few:

(Video) SVG FILES - Everything you need to know!

Free SVG file converters, design, and animation software

Paid software that supports vector files

SVG graphics have become quite popular as of late, thanks to their versatility and accessibility. Not surprisingly, the range of graphic editors that support vector image files is growing, too.

How to add SVG files to Webflow projects

It’s relatively simple to add logos and animated SVGs to Webflow projects. All you need to do is open the Assets panel on the left of the Webflow Designer and upload your file.

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (5)

Once you’ve uploaded the file, follow these steps:

  1. Open Add Elements panel
  2. Scroll to the media section
  3. Select image
  4. Click the “Choose image” button and either select your SVG file or simply drag the asset to where you want it within your design

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (6)

Your image should now appear in your design. If it doesn’t, you may need to set a specific size dimension (especially if you’re adding a logo to a nav bar).

(Video) Why You Dont Need Adobe to Make SVG Files, Use These Instead

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (7)

For interactive SVGs and animations, you can also use the Embed feature.

  1. Open Add Elements panel
  2. Scroll down to the Components section
  3. Drag the Embed element into the Designer
  4. Paste your code into the HTML Embed Code Editor.

SVG files: what are they and how to use them? | Webflow Blog (8)

Alternatively, you can add animations or interactions to SVG images within the Webflow Designer by assigning a trigger and action to the element in the Interactions panel on the right side of the Designer. Check out Webflow University for more info on triggers and animations in Webflow.

Vector graphics format FAQ

Below you’ll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding vector graphics and the SVG file format.

1. What is an SVGZ file?

SVGZ files are compressed scalable vector graphic (SVG) files. Some designers and developers use Gzip to compress SVG files and serve the smallest images possible, thus saving on bandwidth and protecting page speeds.

2. Is SVG lossy or lossless?

The SVG file format boasts lossless compression. You can compress and decompress SVGs without losing clarity.

3. Is SVG the same as EPS?

SVG and EPS are two different vector graphic formats. Scalable vector graphics (SVGs) were created for use on the web. SVGs are based on XML code and best suited for screens. Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is an older file format best suited for large-scale printing.

(Video) SVGs Made Simple 1: How to Find and Download Great SVG Cut Files for Your Cricut or Silhouette!

Using different file formats in Webflow

Looking for more info on when to use SVG, PNG, bitmap images, and other graphic formats in Webflow? Check out these resources from the blog and Webflow University:

  • Image file types
  • PNG vs JPG: which is better for your website?
  • Image resolution
  • Responsive images

FAQs

What are SVG files and how do you use them? ›

The SVG file format is a popular tool for displaying two-dimensional graphics, charts, and illustrations on websites. Plus, as a vector file, it can be scaled up or down without losing any of its resolution. Learn more about the key features of SVG images, their pros and cons, and how the SVG format has evolved.

Why do people use SVG files? ›

SVG files contain enough information to display vectors at any scale, whereas bitmaps require larger files for scaled-up versions of images — more pixels use up more file space. This is good for websites because smaller files load faster on browsers, so SVGs can increase overall page performance.

What is SVG and how do you use it in HTML? ›

SVG images can be written directly into the HTML document using the <svg> </svg> tag. To do this, open the SVG image in VS code or your preferred IDE, copy the code, and paste it inside the <body> element in your HTML document. If you did everything correctly, your webpage should look exactly like the demo below.

What SVG means? ›

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) are an XML-based markup language for describing two-dimensional based vector graphics.

Where is SVG commonly used? ›

The primary use of SVG files are for sharing graphics contents on the Internet. SVG files are suitable for that because the XML base allows SVG files to be searched, indexed, compressed, and scripted. SVG files are widely supported in Internet Browsers.

How do SVG works? ›

SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics is a web standard for defining vector-based graphics in web pages. Based on XML the SVG standard provides markup to describe paths, shapes, and text within a viewport. The markup can be embedded directly into HTML for display or saved to a . svg file and inserted like any other image.

What is SVG advantages and disadvantages? ›

it's possible to view the contents of the SVG file in any browser (IE, Chrome, Opera, FireFox, Safari, etc.). Cons: – the file size is growing very fast, if the object consists of a large number of small elements; – it's impossible to read a part of the graphic object, only the entire object and it slows you down.

Why is SVG so good? ›

They are future proof. SVGs can be scaled indefinitely meaning that they will always render to pixel-perfection on newer display technologies such as 8K and beyond. SVGs can be animated directly or by using CSS or JavaScript making it easy for web designers to add interactivity to a site.

Is SVG still used? ›

It's taken a while, but SVG is now widely supported across all major browsers and devices. SVG files are super-small, searchable, modifiable – via code – and scalable. They look great at all sizes and can be used just like images or inline right in your HTML (creating a site but don't want to code?

How do I turn a photo into a SVG? ›

How to use the SVG file converter.
  1. Select. Choose an image from your photo library that is less than 2GB in size.
  2. Convert. Upload your image to automatically convert it to SVG format.
  3. Download. Your new image will download as an SVG file. Save it, share it, or keep editing it to make it your own.

Which software is used to create SVG images? ›

Creating SVG files in Adobe Illustrator. Perhaps the easiest way to create sophisticated SVG files is to use a tool that you are likely already familiar with: Adobe Illustrator.

Where is the best SVG file? ›

There are lots of sites that offer free SVG project files to download, and we've picked our favourites in this feature.
...
The best free SVG files for Cricut available now
  1. LoveSVG. ...
  2. Dreaming Tree. ...
  3. Free SVG Designs. ...
  4. HelloSVG. ...
  5. Bird's SVGs. ...
  6. Love Paper Crafts. ...
  7. Craftables. ...
  8. Creative Fabrica.
31 Mar 2022

Where are SVG images stored? ›

Go ahead and build engaging presentations with these free SVGs!
  • unDraw. ...
  • Pixabay. ...
  • Open Doodles. ...
  • Vectorportal. ...
  • Flaticon. ...
  • ICONMNSTR. ...
  • Dry Icons. ...
  • Graphic Burger.

How do SVG files make money? ›

There are many different online market places to sell your SVG designs. Etsy, Design Bundles, The Hungry Jpeg, Creative Market… are just a few of the most popular ones. Be sure to zip your files and add a licensing disclosure with your files to make sure people don't misuse your work.

What are the features of SVG? ›

SVG is a platform for two-dimensional graphics. It has two parts: an XML-based file format and a programming API for graphical applications. Key features include shapes, text and embedded raster graphics, with many different painting styles.

What are the limitations of SVG? ›

The disadvantages of SVG images
  • Cannot support as much detail. Since SVGs are based on points and paths instead of pixels, they can't display as much detail as standard image formats. ...
  • SVG doesn't work on legacy browsers. Legacy browsers, such as IE8 and lower, don't support SVG.
6 Jan 2016

What are the properties of a SVG file? ›

SVG presentation attributes are CSS properties that can be used as attributes on SVG elements.
  • alignment-baseline.
  • baseline-shift.
  • clip.
  • clip-rule.
  • color.
  • color-interpolation.
  • color-interpolation-filters.
  • color-profile.
27 Sept 2022

Is SVG or JPEG better? ›

The latest of all the file types, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is a vector image file format released in 2001, and is more powerful than other file formats suitable for the web. Unlike raster formats seen in JPG, GIF, and PNG, an SVG image remains crisp and clear at any resolution or size.

How do I convert an SVG file to an image? ›

How to use the SVG file converter.
  1. Select. Choose an image from your photo library that is less than 2GB in size.
  2. Convert. Upload your image to automatically convert it to SVG format.
  3. Download. Your new image will download as an SVG file. Save it, share it, or keep editing it to make it your own.

What is the difference between an SVG file and a PNG file? ›

While PNGs are capable of handling very high resolutions, they're not infinitely expandable. On the other hand, SVG files are vector-based — built from a complex mathematical network of lines, dots, shapes, and algorithms. They can expand to any size without losing their resolution.

Why do you need SVG files for Cricut? ›

Without getting too technical, an SVG file is a file that is mathematically designed, and thus works perfectly with the Cricut and other cutting machines. In contrast to being designed in pixels, like a JPG or PNG, it is created using lines and points.

What is another name for SVG? ›

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an XML-based vector image format for defining two-dimensional graphics, having support for interactivity and animation. The SVG specification is an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium since 1999.
...
Scalable Vector Graphics.
Internet media typeimage/svg+xml
Websitewww.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/
9 more rows

What are the disadvantages of SVG files? ›

The disadvantages of SVG images
  • Cannot support as much detail. Since SVGs are based on points and paths instead of pixels, they can't display as much detail as standard image formats. ...
  • SVG doesn't work on legacy browsers. Legacy browsers, such as IE8 and lower, don't support SVG.
6 Jan 2016

Is there another name for SVG file? ›

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)

Which software is used to create SVG images? ›

Creating SVG files in Adobe Illustrator. Perhaps the easiest way to create sophisticated SVG files is to use a tool that you are likely already familiar with: Adobe Illustrator.

What software is used to create SVG files? ›

Probably the most well-known software for making SVG files is Adobe Illustrator. The function to make SVG files out of bitmap images is “Image Trace”. You can access the tool panel by going to Window > Image Trace.

How do I edit a SVG file? ›

To edit an SVG image in Office for Android, tap to select the SVG you want to edit and the Graphics tab should appear on the ribbon. Styles - These are a set of predefined styles you can add to quickly change the look of your SVG file.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of SVG? ›

it's possible to view the contents of the SVG file in any browser (IE, Chrome, Opera, FireFox, Safari, etc.). Cons: – the file size is growing very fast, if the object consists of a large number of small elements; – it's impossible to read a part of the graphic object, only the entire object and it slows you down.

Is SVG good for printing? ›

SVGs are specifically designed for web use, so they aren't usually ideal for large-scale printing. They work best at the size of a computer screen. So, when it comes to detailed charts, tables, or infographics that might require users to zoom in, they're the perfect choice.

What is the difference between SVG and PDF? ›

SVG is lightweight and a web standard, PDF is an Adobe standard. As far as “standard” goes, both have their issues, but overall I prefer the smaller file sizes of the SVG files. I was curious about this. i just did a save as out of illustrator with 4 files as PDF and as SVG.

How hard is it to learn how do you use a Cricut machine? ›

Not only is the machine itself super easy to use, but Cricut Design Space, the design program used to create with the Cricut machine, is very user friendly too! In my opinion, the Cricut is the easiest vinyl cutting machine to use!

How do I make my own SVG? ›

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SVG FILES - YouTube

Should I use SVG or font? ›

SVG icons will look perfect both on regular and retina displays. If this factor is important, you should prefer inline SVGs to font icons. Accessibility support is better with SVG icons. So, if accessibility is a must for you, choose inline SVGs.

Videos

1. A beginners guide to SVG | Part One: The Why, What, and How
(Kevin Powell)
2. Make Halloween Lollipop Holders with these Free SVG Files!
(SVG Nation)
3. How Can I Use my SVG Files with SIlhouette Studio Basic Edition Final
(SVG For Fun Or Profit)
4. How to Use an App to Create SVG Files
(Paper Flo Designs)
5. SELLING SVG FILES ON ETSY! How to upload and tag them for maximum exposure!
(Angel B. Designs)
6. Sawgrass SG1000: Unboxing the Desktop Sublimation Printer
(Silhouette School)
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