First created in 1987, GIF files have remained one of the most common types of images, particularly on the web. One of the reasons for the resilience of GIF, despite limitations, such as a small color palette, is its ability to display looping animations, a feature not present in most other formats such as JPEG. Animated GIFs have some downsides, however, such as a large file with all but simple animations.
Animated vs. Static images
While once used mostly for small, art-style animation clips on websites, GIFs today often feature larger, more complex images, such as video clips. These animated GIFs are often used on blogging sites, such as Tumblr, as they more easily depict short, fun events than a series of still images. The main downside to this use is the size of the file; While animated GIFs using strokes and few colors are small files, those with higher resolutions and more colors can take up several megabytes each, slowing page loading, as well as with memory and eating into your data plan when viewed on a smartphone.
GIF vs. Video
When animated GIFs first became popular, there were no video streaming sites. Today, these sites offer several advantages over GIFs, such as having higher quality audio, video, and potentially smaller file sizes for clips of equal length. On the other hand, GIFs have several situational advantages as well: Site designers and users on social media can embed GIFs directly into a page, making them play without any viewer interaction. They also work on all kinds of systems, unlike Flash videos which don’t work on many smartphones.
Why use animated gifs and not videos?
Immediate playback: the animated image is so light that it reproduces immediately even when viewed from a mobile. A video with frequency requires user intervention to activate playback. This immediacy of animated gifs increases the chances that other users will see your communication.
Playback within the email: animated gifs can be loaded and displayed within an email as if they were a normal image. In case you want to show a video in an email, given the size of the file, you need to introduce a link for playback outside the message. Whether it’s on Youtube or another external platform. If the recipient of the email does not click on the link, the reproduction will be lost.
Emotional impact: sending a message based on animated gifs can generate a positive reaction in users. Either motivate them, inspire them or make them remember. This wordless means of communication can save you time, energy, and, most importantly, lengthy explanations. Which on many other occasions are ignored.
Visual retention: an animated gif is sometimes easier to create than a video. And it can complement and enhance understanding of a complex concept. As in the case of learning a mechanical, biological, or chemical message.
Animation of infographics: using animated gifs allows you to give a creative touch to a still image. As in the case of an infographic, giving a repeated movement to an element to make it stand out.
HTML5 Video Alternative
Modern browsers can view video clips without the need for a plugin like Flash. Web designers can use this method with the HTML5 “<video>” tag, and Gfycat and MediaCrush sites offer image hosting for short video clips, intended to replace the animated GIF on blogs and social media such as. While incompatible with older browsers, HTML5 videos offer a big advantage over GIFs as it loads about eight times faster, using fewer data.
Usually, GIFs contain no more than 256 colors. This places a disadvantage over any other common type of static image or video file, as it causes the coloring to look unnatural when GIFs are made up of video clips. When used for images originally drawn with fewer than 256 colors, however, they will be lost without colors.