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Getting the message over with an animated GIF

‘Animated GIFs’ are those short, relatively low quality video animations which became so widely used in social media (particularly as humorous responses) that they’re rarely now associated with anything else. However, they can have a niche use in serious product presentations.

An animated GIF is not usually a replacement for a video. The quality is low, and there’s no audio. But it’s a specialist alternative with one advantage: it ‘auto-plays’. If we have something very simple to demonstrate visually (tab A goes into slot B), a video might not be justified, and indeed, probably wouldn’t get clicked on even if we made one and embedded it on a page. Yet the message a moving image conveys might be crucial to a sales story.

Drawing attention to a benefit

I’ve seen animated GIFs of a finger pressing a button, used to bring to life the benefit of ‘single click operation’. I’ve seen them show an instrument generating a reading in two seconds. I’ve seen them used to show a multi-page publication being flicked through, demonstrating the extent of the text better than the phrase “24-page White Paper” can. Animated visualisations work, but it’s not always likely that people will click on a conventional video, just to see something that takes a moment, which is a shame.

A good graphic designer can make an animated GIF look pretty decent (it’s a compromise between file size and image size/quality). It’s even straightforward to learn how to import a video clip into Photoshop and convert it, for those of us with the time.