In praise of animated GIFs

Animated images using the GIF file format have been around almost since the web began. Apart from a period when the “Flash” format was widespread, “animated GIFs” have been responsible for moving adverts amongst many other things. However, they’ve had a renaissance in the last year or two across the web, mainly for frivolous uses, and you’ll see them everywhere. Some even don’t involve cats.

What’s this got to do with business websites, I hear you ask? Well, sometimes animated GIFs might present you with an opportunity. Supposing you have a simple action to show, perhaps in an online operating manual or even a sales document. You could of course embed a video, but these are relatively complex to produce, and won’t be clicked by every reader. An animated GIF, on the other hand, just plays away in any browser, and will even be seen when people don’t have great internet connections, such as on mobile devices. Think about instances where, in an ideal world, you’d like to show a very short video of maybe 4-5 seconds or less. For example, I created one the other day on this review of the new Dyson AM06 desk fan which I wrote for my own website. I actually shot a short video, and imported it into Photoshop to make the animated GIF. There are loads of how-to guides online for this – it’s very easy.

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