Don’t Use Animated GIFs

Sounds like a rather direct request but I am quite serious on this matter whenever I consult about website design and how to provide help via the web. Although animated GIFs have reduced in size massively thanks to new technology and image compression capabilities, they are still horribly outdated and inefficient.

Animated GIFs were originally used to animate things (usually really annoying things) on a web page. These days they are often used to show a customer how to do something; use software for example. Like this example from the Sage accounts software company.

Try following it and pausing it at the bit you want to take a moment to digest. You can’t. Now if thatw as a video, you could pause it. If it was a serious of single frame images the user (or yourself) would be able to print it out, save it as an easy to read PDF or just have it in another window as reference while working through the steps.

As far as load time, a series of compressed PNGs or JPGs will take less download time than a big GIF. The GIG will contain dozens of frames which means the equivalent of dozens of images,

Usability is the big kicker though. They are just not user friendly when used to show someone how to do something. The user can’t pause them, can’t print the series of steps and has to keep replaying the GIF over and over to catch and memorise all the steps.

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