GIFs have been making a comeback. Since 2011, the GIF file format has been steadily on the rise.
It seems like GIFs — pronounced “gif” or “jif” — are everywhere these days. There are GIF keyboards, GIF integrations, and GIF websites galore. It has been said that the GIF is the future of communication. GIFs are having their moment, and you may want to seriously consider adding them to your communications workflow.
But why is a 29-year-old technology making such a comeback? Because our world has changed. The creation, distribution, and consumption of content has moved away from static Web 1.0 websites and into the mobile age.
Here are the top reasons why GIFs are such a powerful format in today’s world:
- Quick to capture (especially with Snagit)
- No audio hassle
- No aspect ratio concerns
- Goes where images go
- No hosting hassle
- Relatively lightweight
- Device agnostic
- Motion attracts attention
- Easy – you don’t need to click on it for it to play automatically
- Doesn’t use much mobile data
- No speakers needed
- Can watch silently on a mobile device in public
But at Work? Really?
Yes, you read that correctly. GIFs at work. It’s a thing. When you think of GIFs, you probably think of the funny GIF you saw on Facebook or Twitter recently. GIFs like this
We all know that hilarious GIFs are the lifeblood of any free society, but did you also know that using GIFs can really help you out at work? Honest to goodness, there are real workplace uses for this handy little file type.
Let’s have a quick show of hands. How many of you out there remember when…
- Email was brought into the workplace? (late 1990s)
- Adding the simple smiley emoticon 🙂 in a work email was considered bold and different? (circa 2005)
- You first saw an emoji creep into a work email? – 2015
In each of those instances, there were naysayers who genuinely thought that adding emoticons or emoji wasn’t work appropriate. Yet more mobile-savvy millennials are entering the workforce and work-based chat clients like Slack are becoming more widely adopted. Workplace communication is changing.
Ready to take your work communications up to eleven? Here are 11 real, everyday, totally doable, easy peasy ways you could be using GIFs right now.
1. Show a Series of Steps in a Process
Sometimes a seemingly simple process has a lot of steps. Just a few too many to follow or keep in short-term memory. GIFs are the perfect way to explain an onscreen process quickly and without having to list all the steps out.
2. Show Cause and Effect
Illustrate how one thing changes another. GIFs make the cause and effect much clearer with motion than as a static image. A GIF that isolates essential elements and toggles action makes it easy to focus and see impact of the action.
3. Show Before and After
When the amount of space on your screen is an important consideration, a GIF can really be a lifesaver. In a world of ever-shrinking screens, conveying all the necessary information into an itty bitty space can be difficult. Before GIF, you had to use two pictures: a before picture and an after picture. Now, you can show them both in the same space. It’s what we in the industry call a “two-for-one,” or a “twofer,” or a “kill two birds with one awesome GIF.”
4. Make Comparisons
Similar to a before and after GIF, a comparison GIF is a powerful communication tool. By taking two (or more) seemingly separate images and mashing them together in GIF form, you recontextualize the meanings of both. You would be hard-pressed to find another universally recognized file format that packs so much power.
5. Onboarding and Walkthroughs
There’s this handy dandy little screen capture program called Snagit that uses GIF for an introductory tutorial. The GIF exposes functionality with animated loops and a simplified user interface. Perfect for showcasing macro-level functionality without getting into the nitty-gritty.
Perfect to show off a new feature or process, the GIF can serve as a “mini-demo.” Great for dropdown menus and checklist UI, make it a GIF instead of a still image.
7. Social Media Teasers
Want to tease a concept or solicit feedback on social media? Post a GIF and test how your engagement increases. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn support the posting and viewing of GIFs in the feed. Motion-heavy GIFs help stop the scroll and draw attention to your post.
8. Concept Illustrations
Animated illustrations can show concepts and introduce new features, rather than teach steps. GIF motion draws attention, and garners a second look for a seemingly boring topic.
You’ve done the sketching, the wireframing, mockup, and now it’s time to show the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Nothing can kill a product demo than a bunch of starting and stopping. “Uh, then imagine this window pops out. And then…uh…this highlights, and um…” Consider making a GIF to quickly demo your prototype. You talk less and your audience sees more.
10. Helpdesk Ticket
GIFs are perfect for IT help desk. If someone in your organization is asking for computer help, it’s likely that someone else may have the same issue. By creating a simple, helpful GIF one time and keeping it on file, you will be ready to help everyone who ever asks again.
11. Quick Tips or Answering Questions
Has someone ever asked you a question on how to do a seemingly simple task, and you find yourself writing them a novel? It’s actually faster to just make them a quick GIF. It’s also easier for the person to follow along. Perfect for the workplace social platform, such as Slack, Yammer, or Flowdock.
BONUS! GIF Reactions
Did someone on your team close a big sale? Squash that pesky computer bug? Or nail that latest presentation? Consider emailing them a congratulatory GIF!
Want to really celebrate? CC the entire team on your email. Nothing blows up your inbox quicker than well placed GIF. Your co-workers will be compelled to “lol” you. Or better yet, they will respond with a GIF or meme of their own.
Here at TechSmith, when someone sends out a funny GIF or meme, we all pile on and try to outdo each other. Sure, it’s a bit of distraction, but we’re all laughing as a team and having a bit of fun at work. I am constantly amazed by the GIF mastery and meme brilliance of my colleagues.
Do You Think You’re Ready to Use GIFs at Work?
Any GIF use cases that we missed? Any you don’t agree with? A few favorites that you want to try? Please tell us in the comments below and share with your fellow GIF power users!