The advantages of using vector graphics for website creation

Image by terriana.

If you are still not using vector graphics instead of raster on your websites, and you do not know how to, than this article may help you learn:

  • What it is SVG format in particular and what is vector graphics as a whole
  • Why you should use SVG files when creating web pages
  • How to embed SVG files on a page
  • What perks and features come with SVG images for web purposes

What is vector graphics and SVG?

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is a vector graphics format – essentially, a graphic data described by mathematic formulae.

What does it mean? It means that unlike raster graphics, it is a set of equations and numbers – and not a set of colored pixels. For websites, it is the SVG format that is commonly used; there are other popular vector formats as well, such as AI, EPS, CRD, PDF and others.

Differences between vector and bitmap

What are the advantages of vector graphics for web pages?

The advantages are huge, so let’s have a look at them.

Scalability without losing quality

Today, web pages are browsed from different devices and platforms; this can be both a smartphone with a small screen as well as a desktop PC with a giant one. But how to make images and icons look good at any resolution and on any screen, considering that raster formats, such as JPG or PNG can lose quality when resized? Of course, you may create graphic sets for each element, and show an image of appropriate size depending on the screen size of the end user. But placing a vector image on the page you get the same good quality image on any device.

Also, vector graphics and clipart support transparency, which significantly expands the possibilities when designing web pages.

Result: really sharp-looking images without the hassle to make image sets for different resolutions.

Image size matters!

To get the high image quality native to vector images with raster ones – the resolutions have to be big – which impacts the file sizes accordingly. Vector graphic files are much more compact, if they do not contain complex elements.

How to determine, what to use – raster or vector? You have to look at your options, but nothing beats testing. If the file contains a lot of gradients or hues – raster should work better for you; the more defined lines and the less diverse colors are present in the file – the more it is fitting for vector format. Therefore, vector graphics are perfect for icons, logos and 2D graphics – those, which are usually referred to as vector clipart.

Vector or bitmap

After you have determined, which images should be in vector format, you can optimize their file size using special utility programs, which removes the unnecessary meta information and anchor points. Examples of such utility programs:


Result: excellent quality with minimal file size.

SVG has navigable DOM and can be animated

Through the use of CSS and JS you may control different parts of the image file – groups or elements. This allows you to use image animation for responsive web page design or to apply filters. The examples are provided later in this article.

Result: interactive and high quality vector elements, which may be animated and\or responsive to user actions.

How to embed a file in the page?

There are multiple ways to embed vector graphics onto your webpage; we shall have a look at two of them.

Using SVG with tag

You may use the SVG as a typical image using the aforementioned tag or as a background.

<img src="flask.svg" alt="Flask SVG" />

Flask SVG

The downside of such method is that it limits the CSS capabilities to interact with the image.

Using «inline» SVG

SVG may be inserted as a pure code if the file does not contain that many elements. To do this, simply open the SVG file with any text editor and copy its contents directly to your page’s HTML code. Such method permits you to avoid additional HTTP requests from page to server, but most importantly – you may address parts of the file through CSS and JS. Let’s have look at this example:

The code of your SVG file goes here:

<svg class="flask" version="1.2" baseProfile="tiny" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" width="75.425" height="119.643"><switch><g fill="#003B54">
<path d="M37.713 109.769c15.35 0 27.839-12.488 27.839-27.839 0-.887-.045-1.767-.128-2.639-18.356-5.097-31.149 6.796-55.523 3.813.618 14.808 12.855 26.665 27.812 26.665z"></path>
<path d="M75.425 81.93c0-13.997-7.689-26.771-20.066-33.335-2.229-1.182-4.041-3.798-4.041-5.834V15.018a7.503 7.503 0 0 0 3.703-1.501 7.523 7.523 0 0 0 0-11.962A7.492 7.492 0 0 0 51.723.112 7.478 7.478 0 0 0 50.446 0H24.98c-.436 0-.861.04-1.277.111a7.493 7.493 0 0 0-3.297 1.443 7.525 7.525 0 0 0 0 11.962 7.522 7.522 0 0 0 3.703 1.5V42.76c0 2.036-1.813 4.652-4.042 5.834C7.689 55.158 0 67.933 0 81.93c0 20.795 16.918 37.713 37.713 37.713s37.712-16.918 37.712-37.713zM23.617 7.535c0-.418.193-.789.491-1.039.237-.2.539-.325.872-.325h25.466c.333 0 .635.125.872.325. 1.039s-.193.789-.49 1.039a1.352 1.352 0 0 1-.872.324H24.98c-.333 0-.635-.125-.872-.324a1.355 1.355 0 0 1-.491-1.039zm-.659 46.512c3.638-1.93 7.322-6.426 7.322-11.286V15.069H45.148V42.76c0 4.86 3.684 9.356 7.321 11.286a31.5 31.5 0 0 1 16.755 26.517c.019.454.032.909.032 1.366 0 17.392-14.15 31.542-31.541 31.542-17.187 0-31.204-13.816-31.534-30.925a31.493 31.493 0 0 1 16.777-28.499z"></path></g></switch></svg>

And CSS style for any element of this code:

.flask {
 width: 300px;
 fill: red;

As you may see, the advantages of using vector graphics for creating web pages are attractive enough to start using it.

You may create vector graphics yourself by using vector graphics program suites or you may purchase images from vector clipart stock websites.

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