GIF design: What to do and what not to do?


Internet users are not known for their attention spans. I mean, even harder than keeping their attention is capturing it in the first place. And this is especially true if you’re running a business or brand with a smaller presence. It can be pretty challenging to draw your audience in. 

Here’s the predicament; the text doesn’t cut it anymore, photo content isn’t engaging enough, and getting users to commit to a video may be asking too much!

But wait, there’s a secret fourth option not many consider but has proven to be highly effective; GIFs! 

GIF or Graphics Interchange Format is a digital media best described as a cross between picture and video. A GIF is, put, a moving picture. You’ve probably seen more than a few of them floating around, perhaps featuring cats.

GIFs for web design have become a popular medium for brands and businesses. They’ve been used in marketing campaigns for years. They’re small investments but can be highly rewarding for your brand engagement! This is because they’re highly effective in communicating information in quick snippets, without asking for your audience’s attention for too long. Plus, the GIF design price isn’t too high to pay.

In today’s digital age, having a good grip on creating motion graphics like GIFs is a good idea for any designer. 

Lucky for you, we’ve got the ultimate guide to GIF design right here. Let’s get started!


GIF design: what to do and what NOT to do

It would help if you kept in mind some design basics when designing GIFs. Let’s get into the 8 best GIF design tips in 2022.



1. Attention!

This is the most obvious one, your GIFs for web design have to be attention-grabbing. This requires some thought and research. Look into your target audience; what are their interests? What kind of content do they subscribe to and what sort of sense of humor do they have? 

If you’ve got brand colors, this is the time to use them. Make your GIFs as vibrant as possible. Readability is also a significant contributor to your GIFs’ success. If your animated GIF design has text, make sure it’s readable. Ideally, the bigger the text, the better. If you’ve got a campaign hashtag, it’s a good idea to use it in your GIF. 

The best way to go about this is to experiment with different types of content and formats to see what works the best with your audience. 

It’s also wise to judge which platform can benefit from GIF content. For example, video content typically performs pretty well on Instagram. However, it might not perform just as well on Twitter, where videos don’t need autoplay unless a user’s wifi connection is perfect. For Twitter, it’s a good idea to convert your videos into GIFs!

2. Keep it small

Speaking of high-speed internet, make sure your GIF size is on the smaller side. Compress your GIF content as much as possible without compromising the quality. 

This is so various audiences can view your content with varying internet connections and devices. A high-resolution GIF may not play for a user with a mediocre internet connection, compromising on your user engagement. Many social media platforms also have file size limitations, which means you cannot upload or share a file that surpasses that limit. 

This makes it tricky for designers to create shareable content across multiple platforms. The answer is research! Look up the file size limitations for all the platforms you hope to display your content on and create GIFs accordingly. 

Plus, if you’re using GIFs on your website, high-resolution files can significantly impact your website speed. And trust us, a slow website is one of the worst things that can happen to your online presence and SEO! Especially if you’re creating animations for a website, make sure to compress it as much as possible so it plays effortlessly without putting a dent in your website speed. 

3. Responsive design

Yes, responsive design principles apply to animated GIF design as well. Your motion graphics have to be mobile-friendly. This isn’t too complicated. You need to keep a couple of things in mind. 

For example, most users use their phones in portrait mode, so make sure your GIFs are sized appropriately, so they don’t get cropped out on a phone screen. Similarly, it’s a good idea not to have too many GIFs on a single page. You don’t want to overwhelm the user! 

4. Loop!

Loop GIFs are gaining popularity these days. Animators create GIFs that run on a constant loop, creating an optical illusion that each frame is different. It’s an interesting concept that seems to keep users hooked for a few seconds. 

When creating GIFs for your campaigns or social media in general, it’s essential to keep recent trends in mind when creating social media content. The digital space is incredibly fast-paced, and if you don’t keep up, you’ll be left behind!

For continuous loop GIFs, keep a sense of rhythm in mind. Establish a few frames that flow seamlessly into one another and set them on a constant loop, and you’re done! 

5. Keep it simple

This is key; keep your GIFs simple. Or at least start simple. With so many options and customizations in front of you, it’s easy to get caught up and take on more than you can handle. 

Your GIF needs to be short and, for the most part, have only a few elements. Too many elements in motion graphics can overwhelm your audience and be confusing to understand. Whether you’re working with text or animations, or both, it’s essential to strike a balance between each type of element to ensure that your audience gets what you’re trying to convey. 

Start with simple concepts that combine one or two elements. A simple animation done right is preferable and likely to succeed than a complex animation poorly done! 

Mastering the art of creating impactful GIF banner designs takes practice, and just like anything else, you have to get the basics right first. Start simple, stay consistent with your design practice, and you’ll be an expert in no time! 

6. Video to GIF

This is not a design tip but more of a content marketing hack. We touched on this briefly in a previous point, but this is an excellent idea; turn your videos into GIFs. This is the best way to repurpose content and stay consistent with your online presence efficiently. 

Repurposing content is an excellent hack; turn your videos into blog posts, social media carousels, IG stories, GIFs, and ads to get the most out of your content. A single piece of high-quality content containing a good idea is distributed across every platform possible, ensuring quality over quantity. 

The same principle follows for GIFs, turn your video content into GIFs for platforms like Twitter to ensure your content is seen on all platforms available to you!

7. Accessibility

Your GIF content needs to be accessible to a wide range of audiences, so you’ll need to put extra consideration into the design. 

For example, to avoid ticking off viewers with epilepsy or light sensitivity, make sure your GIFs aren’t too flashy or at least contain a flash warning. Similarly, if you’re adding text, make sure it’s readable and doesn’t require extra effort on the audience’s part to decipher. 


8. The right tools

Use the right tools! And even more importantly, use the right tools for you. We recommend starting with a simple GIF creator before jumping into more complex tools like Photoshop. 

Not every tool works for every creative. Luckily, there’s a plethora of animation and motion graphics software out there, so you have a lot of options! If you’re interested in getting into animation and design immediately, we recommend a mix of video tutorials and trial and error. 

Experiment and play around with different software and tools and figure out which one helps you the most with your design needs. Speaking of tools, if you were worried you’d have to go on another Google search for those, fear not! We’ve got you covered. 

Best GIF design tools 

These are our top picks for the best GIF creation tools out there. 

1. Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects is one of the best visual effects and motion graphics creators on the market. This is a professional-grade design tool creators use globally for post-production editing and graphic design. 

After Effects is one of the most popular tools for creating motion graphics and animations, the software has a wide range of options and editing tools to create the perfect designs and graphics. 

In terms of using this to create GIFs and similar animated content, there is a bit of a learning curve with this, but it’s well worth it! 

Fortunately, like most of the tools in Adobe CC, After Effects comes with a free trial. You get to try out the tool for seven days without any commitment, which is more than enough time for you to experiment and see if it works for you. 

2. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a cult favorite among creators all over the world. Like After Effects, Photoshop requires a bit of time to master, but it pays off! Users can create frame animations and edit their photo and video content in the same software. 

You can also convert video content into GIFs within the tool. This saves you the time you would’ve spent exporting the files to a different tool for format conversion.

3. Adobe Animate

As the name suggests, Adobe Animate is another excellent tool for animations and vector graphics. Users can easily create, edit, and expert GIFs with this tool, making it the perfect addition to your design tool belt! 

This one is comparatively easier to use and faster than the previous two. However, a pro-tip is to watch a few tutorials to jumpstart the process without you having to spend hours picking up the basics! 


Review your GIF Design with GoVisually!

Motion graphics and animated content is all the rage these days. This is because formats like GIFs make communication efficient and entertaining at the same time! 

However, creative projects can be a hassle with cross-team collaboration and feedback coming in from all angles. Miscommunication and confusion can greatly slow down each cycle of your creative process. 

And this is where using GoVisually for review and approval can genuinely up to your content game.

GoVisually is an online proofing tool explicitly designed to streamline feedback and review. You can easily upload, invite reviewers, review, add feedback and finalize GIF designs.

Don’t believe me? Book a demo today and find out for yourself. I can bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Until then, happy GIF designing.


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Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan is a storyteller, brand strategist, and growth manager at GoVisually. She loves creating value-driven content for creative professionals.
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