SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) animation is favoured by many web designers due to its flexibility; it is scalable, easy to edit, produces compact file sizes and is also SEO-friendly, so it definitely ticks a lot of the boxes for an easy to work with technology. What is surprising, however, is that it has only recently really started to become popular, despite being around for over 2 decades! Yes, that’s right; the first W3C SVG Working Group was formed in 1998, 22 years ago and very different to the format we know and work with today.

Vector Graphic Format Required

The W3C SVG Working Group came about originally due to a need for a vector graphic format in the early days of the web. Working with rastor type images does have its benefits with image clarity, but they tend to be size heavy, resolution dependent and suffer degradation when blown up. As a result of this need for a vector format, companies including IBM, Adobe and Microsoft requested such technology. As a result, the W3C addressed this issue, forming the SVG Working Group and building the SVG format from the ground up. The finalised specifications for SVG 1.0 were issued in 2001, updated in 2003 and edited in 2011. SVG 2 was finally released and W3C recommended in 2018.

Rise in Popularity

There’s no denying that rastor graphics are still extremely popular, possibly partly due to the fact that SVG required separate plugins or programs to work until it was edited in 2011 and all major browsers could then support SVG as inline code or embedded objects. Even then it took a while for users to start adapting to using SVG, but recent trends have shown that it has now overtaken other technologies such as GIFs. This is down to a number of reasons, including:

  • Flexibility of SVG – these images and animations can look good on all devices, something that is required by users and search engines
  • Smaller file sizes – GIFs create very heavy file sizes, which in turn can slow a website loading speed down. This is something that impacts search engine rankings, and is one of the most important elements for Google’s mobile search bot.
  • Mobile friendliness – as SVG files are scalable, they work well on mobile devices (and tick the box for mobile site speed too)

2021 SVG Trends

SVGs are here to stay and the trend to use this format will only continue into 2021. Being online and having an approachable web presence has only become more important in 2020, and with social distancing and online shopping still encouraged whilst the COVID pandemic is still ongoing, we can’t see this changing.

There are many virtual technologies growing in popularity for websites at the moment including artificial intelligence, VLOGs and voice-capable interfaces, and SVG animation takes its rightful place among them. Because they are versatile, tick the SEO boxes and able to adapt to micro-interactions, they do offer more flexibility in this current customer journey driven age than other formats.