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23.2. Using Animated GIFs

Nowhere has GIF animation made a larger impact than in banner advertising. Ad agencies aren't stupid; they know that adding motion and flashing lights to a web page is a sure-fire way to attract attention. And it's true -- adding animation is a powerful way to catch a reader's eye.

But beware that this can also work against you. Many users complain that animation is too distracting, making it difficult to concentrate on the content of the page. Although it adds a little "pizzazz" to the page, overall, too much animation can quickly spoil the user's enjoyment of your page.

Use animated GIFs wisely. A few recommendations:

  • Avoid more than one animation on a page.

  • Use the animation to communicate something in a clever way (not just as gratuitous flashing lights).

  • Avoid animation on text-heavy pages that might require concentration to read.

  • Consider whether the extra bandwidth to make a graphic "spin" is actually adding value to your page.

  • Decide whether your animation needs to loop continuously.

  • Experiment with timing. Sometimes a long pause between loops can make an animation less distracting.

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