An image says a thousand words. But a GIF speaks for days.
Whether you call them GIFs or “JIFs” (and please don’t do the latter), these digital flick-books have not only populated the internet for over two decades, they’ve helped define how it looks. From their inception, they helped birth meme culture. And to this day, all of us use GIFs in our personal digital spaces. Whether that’s social media, messaging services or even work emails. But only to certain colleagues who are cool and not gonna be weird about it.
But the GIFs of today have evolved. No longer rudimentary clipart with motion, now they’re segments of popular shows and music videos, as well as bold, experimental original pieces. And each one takes on a life of its own, through expressive exposure. If you’re wondering what we mean by that, it’s sending your friend a short clip of Forrest Gump running full-pelt, to say you’re gonna be a little late.
What makes GIFs so popular?
So why do we do this? The answer is low-fi shareability. Whether you know the source material or not, GIFs have the power to express a simple message, effectively. This is because they’re smaller than a video. They can’t hold sound, so there’s less to cognitively process. And their short, looping nature, means you can get across a single message concisely.
Not to mention the fact that this bitesize content is supported widely across websites and apps. And with every GIF shared, people inadvertently become brand ambassadors, spreading material organically.
Of course, the benefits aren’t just limited to funny posts shared between friends, there’s a path for businesses too. After all, GIFs are the perfect delivery system for quick, uncomplicated messaging. That can be specific features of your product, or a unique service you provide. Either way, a short looping animation can get this across to your audience with incredible ease.
We factor this in all the time. Once we’ve created a stunning and riveting animated explainer (hint hint), we can take elements and repurpose them. Allowing our clients to bring their sites to life with motion. Serving to both pique your viewers interest as well as giving them an overview of what to expect.
There’s a new sheriff in town
But everything has its limitations. And we’re talking about a format that has been around for over a quarter of a century. In the world of technology, that’s astounding. How many other technological examples can you think of, that were pioneered in the late 80s and have had minimal transformation since then? Sure, you can turn any clip into a GIF. But you pay the price in terms of size and quality. Trading smooth animation and clear images for crunched, noisy, grainy versions, with colour limitations to keep the size down. And too many of these sparkling behemoths can really drag your site’s load time.
“Wait,” we hear you cry, “I thought you just told me GIFs were amazing. In fact, you said they were perfect.” Well that’s not exactly what we said but we get your point. See, for all the advantages of GIFs, there’s actually an alternative way.
A lot of possibility
Introducing Lotties. Where GIFs blazed the trail, Lotties have taken the baton and run further toward the horizon. And in the process, created amazing innovative potential. Lotties are JSON files that can be scaled up or down without losing quality; making them perfect for all manner of screens and devices.
This is because a JSON file is text based. It’s code. So rather than large megabyte files, these beauties are kilobytes. The example LottieFiles use on their website is a comparison between an elephant and a dog. The size difference is almost unbelievable. So are we saying everyone should be using Lotties? No. At least not yet. But for businesses and organisations, the possibilities are vast.
When creating these animations, there are certain things to consider and therefore, they need to be built from the ground up. But as a text file, these images can also be interactive. To explain how mindblowing that is, a GIF is a looping image. It’s engaging and informative but that’s all it is.
A Lottie arguably looks exactly the same. But it means any image on your site can be animated when the user interacts with it. Hovering over an icon could cause it to loop or morph. Or you could scroll down through an article and as you reach a certain point, the accompanying image could animate. Not just looping continually, but as a reaction to your presence.
Working diligently across all manner of websites and apps, GIFs have been a reliable and powerful tool. They will continue to amuse and inform in equal measure. And with the addition of Lotties, whatever the future holds, we can guarantee they will play a strong part in it.