The question isn’t whether you should use Gifs or not, it’s where do I get them and how many can I legitimately cram into a single article?

(Warning: some images below may not be suitable for people with photosensitive epilepsy)

Gifs! We love Gifs at Econsultancy. Most of our office email conversations descend into an all out Gif-off, and woe betide those who accidentally upload a JPEG, as they will be cast out of the Gif club forever.

When our editor sent an email earlier this week formally announcing a couple of content team promotions, it turned into a cavalcade of ‘Taylor Swift applauding’ Gifs. 

You’ll be surprised at how many Gifs there are of Taylor Swift applauding. I guess she must attend a lot of award shows.

We regularly use Gifs in our slightly wayward Friday round-up of internet distractions, and I nearly died of pleasure-overload when we redesigned the site and discovered that you can upload Gifs into the header image on the blog homepage and within our Daily Pulse email.

Now there is an irritation factor here, and you do have to be careful not to overwhelm a visitor with anything too brashly repetitive, so subtle movement is recommended for general public consumption.

So basically not this… 

And definitely not this…

Best places to find Gifs

There are plenty of places to source Gifs. One of our trade secrets is the brilliant tech team here built a searchable Gif finder into the back-end of the Econsultancy site. Which basically leads to a solid 10 minutes of distraction every time we log-in and upload a post.

However for none Econsultancy employees there are many other sites you can search on (click on the images to visit).

There’s Giphy.com…

Hulu’s recently launched The Perfect Gif Tumblr for more US based TV related Gifs...

FFFFound is a great place to lose yourself in and find more obscure, arty Gifs, but does come with an occasional NSFW warning so use caution...

Reaction Gifs is where you’ll find the perfect meme to any question or remark pointed your way...

Yes I did!

Paul Robertson is a genius, as is Bees and Bombs for more mathematical pattern based Gifs.

And for some really artful work, check out Reddit’s Cinemagraphs thread, where you can find such beauties as these…

Make your own Gifs

Now so far you’ll be thinking that these are all well and good for some silly knockabout fun, and you’d be right to say so. However there is definitely a practical application for Gifs that we often use on our blog, particularly when writing about ecommerce sites. 

Gifs are a perfect way to visually highlight certain features, that simple text and a static image occasionally fail to achieve.

For instance in this post about on-site search, when describing the product images and how they change when you hover a mouse over them…

Or showing the micro-UX of our favourite sites...

Or in this post on making your own data visualisations

And how do we source these very specific Gifs? We make our own.

Personally I use Gif Grabber for the Mac. It’s free, really easy to use, you can capture anything that’s happening on your computer screen (even outside of the browser window), you can resize the capture window to any dimension, capture up to 10 seconds of footage and trim frames from the beginning or end of the Gif. It hasn’t let me down yet.

It also means I spend far too long making high quality Gifs of newly released trailers.

Pew-pew-pew. Pew-pew-pew.

There are plenty of other Gif makers available, however I have yet to be recommended a good similar piece of software for Windows. Either they’re loaded with spyware or you have to pay for them. If you have any personal recommendations, please let me know in the comments.

Right that just about covers it, remember to use Gifs responsibly kids. But not too responsibly.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 9 April, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

You need to mention that these can trigger photo-sensitive epilepsy. Also migraine, at least for me. So it's really important not to over-use flashing images.

I did more animation like this than anyone, back before there were gifs, and subtlty is everything. A loop that visibly jumps every few seconds gets old very fast. So thanks for the great reddit Cinemagraphs link:
http://www.reddit.com/r/Cinemagraphs

almost 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

Very good point. Thank you.

almost 3 years ago

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