GIFs have been kicking their way back from the abyss of uncoolness for a few years now.
It’s hard to believe that once the high point of the history of GIFs used to be the, err… dancing banana. Let’s not go there, shall we?
But now, they’re the perfect form to sum up a huge range of emotion and feeling in just a few, eternally looping seconds. GIFs sidestep long and complicated explanations, and give that spot-on one-line response to a variety of situations.
Drawing on pop culture, in-jokes and those zeitgeisty little moments that are virtually impossible to capture in any other way – yeah, GIFs are pretty awesome. And here’s why you should be using them to amp up your blog:
Show. Don’t tell.
That old chestnut again.
So people are always knocking on about why you should “show” rather than drone on incessantly, and the short and sharp nature of GIFs makes them perfect for this.
And if you’ve got complicated features about a product or site that you want to get across, then a well-crafted GIF can communicate this in one of the most effective ways.
A great example of this? Check out Mailchimp’s how-to tutorials. These sweet GIFs run you through the entire workflow of how to set up different parts of their service – guiding the user in a realistic and easy to understand way.
Create the experience
Another great way of getting past those lengthy, verbose explanations is by using GIFs to recreate the experience for the user.
Want to nudge someone along to a snappy call to action? A GIF is a really useful way of guiding someone through the experience of your product, and prompt them to jump to their feet, in a way no snazzily written piece of copy ever could.
Take a look at this virtuoso example from Pizza Express for instance. (Warning: it will induce major pizza cravings!) This short clip takes you, blow by blow, through the creation of a freshly made and utterly mouth-watering pizza, which is pretty hard to resist.
Tell a story
Let’s leave aside those dancing kitten and Game of Throne GIFs that are constantly blowing all over Tumblr for a moment. While they’re fun, they usually have no context, and serve pretty much as just a punch line or a reaction for a joke.
Instead, take a look at the higher potential they hold. A picture can tell a thousand words – but a GIF can bring an entire narrative to life in seconds. And storyboarding is key to achieving this.
Luxury menswear e-tailer, Mr Porter really nailed it with their Kingsman collaboration collection – using the power of GIFs to literally put the audience in the story. Using a custom kiosk in Westfields, you could create your own personal avatar, and insert it into a unique GIF where you got to feature in a scene from the actual film.
GIFs too big? No problem
One of the downsides of GIFs is their generally bloated file size. Last thing you want is for a user to be forced to wait for aeons while your page loads, right?
Here’s where cinemagraphs step in. The name might sound like a retro throwback, but think of them instead as the artier and skinner cousin of your regular GIF.
Cinemagraphs work by freezing the main portion of an image file, and animating only a very specific part of it. So – smaller file sizes, but the result can be also captivating, as it can focus the user’s attention on the most essential part of the image.
Take a look at these hypnotic cinemagraphs from the chef and photographer duo behind Kitchen Ghosts for example. Who’d have thought you could watch sauce pour endlessly, for hours?
So are you on board with the power of GIFs on your blog? What are your favourite ones? Don’t be stingy – share them with us!