Strategic Use of Animated GIFs

Do you remember when people were just learning about the joys of animated GIFs and websites were littered with bouncing sheep, rainbow glitter, or even the more recent explosion and decline of Nyan Cat? If you don’t remember this, take a look at these fine specimens.

For a couple of years, designers and business owners have stayed away from animated GIFs for the same reason that they currently avoid fonts such as Comic Sans and Papyrus; GIFs were overdone. Too popular, too annoying, too much neon, too intrusive. But what about now?

Things have come a long way since mankind first decided to make an image that plays frame by frame actions in a never-ending loop. Now we have an opportunity to use them tastefully and for the right reasons. So, what are some reasons to use them?

1. Show Something Beautiful

Toyo traffic
Wouldn’t it be nice if traffic could really move this fast?

People are hit with so many advertisements that sometimes they really, really don’t care to see just another way to spend their hard-earned money. GIF them a break and let them see something inspiring that reflects your company.

2. Animate Data

animated data showing Isis locations
NPR is really rocking their animated data

Because it makes your data come off the page. It’s easy, it’s not a video people have to click on, and it’s short so they will see the whole thing.

3. Show How to do Something

How to man-handle strawberries!
How to man-handle strawberries!

Not quite sure how to describe something in words or drawings? Show your users what to do!

4. Show off Something Unique About Your Brand

Feeling the Power in Powerwash
Feeling the Power in Power Wash. Suddenly it’s fashionable to have old clothes! They feel amazing.

That’s right, get in the spotlight and show it off. BUT don’t overdo it. American Apparel did a nice job with showing off the colors and comfort of their t-shirt line in a way that connects peoples everyday experiences to the store experience.

5. Make a Statement/Say Thanks

Happy Holidays from APi-marketing
We probably didn’t need the words to make this statement

Sure, it goes without saying that if you use an animated GIF, you are essentially saying something. This is why GIFs have been internet meme sensations; they make a loaded statement. Loaded with good or bad? You decide, it’s your GIF! Just try to keep it to one and keep in mind that in most cases a GIF in your email will be hidden until the recipient opts to view images in their email. Use alternate text to prompt people to load images.

Do you want to make your own animated GIF? Use an online tool such as GiffySnap or use Photoshop with or without the assistance of programs such as Adobe After Effects, Illustrator and Flash.

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.