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Best Practices for Creating Animated GIFs

The almighty GIF—we’ve all seen them. Short for graphics interchange format, the GIF is an image format that first emerged on the tech scene in June of 1987. GIFs work by compressing several frames into an image sequence that can be looped forever or for a set amount of time.Their popularity has fluctuated since then, but according to Google Trends, the search term “animated GIF” has been rising in popularity over the last five years.

What started as a way to share funny short video clips has evolved into an effective marketing tool for businesses. Since the average internet user is flooded with all sorts of marketing content with every page they click on, GIFs have been recognized as useful tools to help brands stand out from those simply using flat images or long videos. Since videos are one of the 2018 popular social marketing trends, using short video clips as GIFs can be a great strategy for your business. In this article, we’ll go over the best practices for creating GIFs and the benefits of using them.


Software & Alternatives

If you are looking to create a GIF, Adobe Photoshop is the best option for maintaining the highest degree of control over the final result. When exporting GIFs in Photoshop, you are given control over the dithering, maximum amount of colors, metadata, size, looping options, and more. Photoshop also comes with presets for quickly and easily exporting GIFs for the web.

exporting GIF screen

For those who either don’t have Photoshop or aren’t comfortable with using it, there are plenty of free alternatives for creating GIFs. Some popular options include

These websites allow you to create GIFs from uploaded photos and video clips, YouTube videos, or other images on the web. With the popularity of GIFs on the rise, we can expect to see more tools like these available to the average internet user.



Optimization is an underlooked yet crucial step in posting GIFs online. As with any element on the web, a GIF can only be enjoyed if it loads properly. Optimization involves reducing the file size to allow for quicker loading within web browsers. Consider these factors to consider when optimizing a GIF:



The number of pixels compressed into the image is the biggest factor for determining the file size of the GIF. Most of the time, GIFs are made to be less than 500 pixels wide.



When creating GIFs in certain programs, you are given control over the number of different colors that will be displayed within it. The more colors, the less your computer will have to merge between two shades, thereby making your image look better. Options for the number of colors are usually 16, 32, 64, 128 and 256. The higher this number, the more detail will be in each pixel, increasing the file size.



The number of frames per second in your GIF will determine the total number of frames rendered in the final image. Therefore, if your frame rate is 30, the size will be larger than that with a frame rate of 24. Standard GIFs run between 15 and 24 frames per second.

GIF with no compression

(466kb - 256 Colors, no compression)

GIF with compression

(173kb - 32 Colors, 10% web compression)

Overall, the smaller your GIF file size, the lower the quality will be. When creating GIFs for the web, it is all about finding the smallest file size possible without sacrificing too much quality.


Benefits of Using GIFs

The practical uses for GIFs are virtually unlimited. When you want something more interesting than an image but shorter than a video, a GIF is probably the solution. They can be used to easily explain concepts, add humor, promote products, and more. A great example of how GIFs played a central role in a marketing strategy was with Dell’s XPS 123 Ultrabook campaign. Dell’s GIF campaign brought them a 109% increase in revenue and a 103% increase in conversion rate. This success, along with others, confirms the effectiveness of strategically created GIFs.

Visually appealing elements have become more important than ever, which is why your business should consider using GIFs in your next campaign. Whether it be your next email campaign, social media posts, or website content, Blue Frog can provide all your motion graphic and design needs. Head on over to the video section of our website and contact us today to get started!


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