Gifs offer a unique way to express thoughts and feelings. The internet wouldn’t be the same without them.
These lovable and humorous animations first appeared in 1987, thanks to Stephen Wilhite, and they have become a staple of internet culture.
A gif uses a compression method similar to file types such as JPEG, PNG, and TIFF. However, a gif file allows you to store multiple images simultaneously, making them useful for storing more information in a small file size.
Gifs were initially written off after the rise of popular formats like JPEGs and PNGs, which are much higher-quality images. However, gifs dominated the market for animated images, with no competition. As a result, they’ve stayed relevant and evolved into the beloved animations we know today.
Gifs are now used beyond memes and entertainment purposes; the repeating animations have become a staple in both marketing and web design. Brands use gifs on social media, in emails, and even on error pages. And in 2014, Dell used gifs in an email marketing campaign and found that clickthrough rates increased by 42%, conversions grew by 103%, and overall revenue saw a whopping 109% boost.
Gifs have a firm place in a design world full of high-quality pictures, 4K videos, and motion graphic animations.
It’s important to note that while gifs have a lot of benefits, they can negatively impact website accessibility. Because gifs default to an infinite loop and sometimes contain blinking or flashing, they can be harmful to those with photosensitivity, epilepsy, and other conditions. To keep your designs accessible, avoid using any blinking or flashing and always provide an option to pause gifs.
We’ve compiled five of the best sites to find gifs — along with three tools that allow you to create your own gifs for any situation.
The 5 best sites to find gifs
Finding the most effective way to convey a specific message can be difficult, especially if you're looking for a gif that suits your target demographic, tone, and subject. Luckily, we've put together these five sites to show you where to find gifs.
GIPHY is one of the most popular gif sites in the world. Founded by Alex Chung, Jack Cooke, and Henry Lockwood, it started as a search engine for gifs. Since then, this free gif website has made its collection more widely availablethanks to partnerships and integrations with numerous other platforms, like Slack, Facebook, and Asana.
GIPHY's database is easy to navigate — simply browse categories or search for a word, and hundreds of results pop up. Categories include reaction gifs, entertainment, sports, animals, anime, cartoons, gaming, and more.
Tenor is an excellent tool for adding relevant gifs to any online conversation. Tenor is home to millions of monthly visitors and billions of searches via messenger apps, social media, and search engines.
This gif platform offers more complex features like an integrated analytics dashboard. You can use the dashboard to receive insights and real-time data on trending gifs. This feature makes Tenor an excellent asset for content creators and digital marketers who use gifs for their social media marketing and want to stay on trend.
Alan Schaaf founded Imgur — an image sharing and hosting service — in his dorm room at Ohio University in 2009. Since then, the site has amassed a substantial following and forged a loyal community through its large collection of gif images. Imgur reaches approximately 300 million people each month.
The site has hosted a number of viral images and memes. Visitors can use the site to post and keep tabs on trending pictures, screenshots, and gifs.
Imgflip made its online debut in 2011 and currently receives over 11 million users per month. Founder Dylan Wenlau created a gif website that allows people to create gifs using the platform's exclusive gif generator.
Beyond allowing visitors to find and create fun and engaging gifs and images, Imgflip also has an integrated social media tool that lets people share fresh gifs directly to their social channels.
Robert Rabbat launched Gfycat in 2013 to create the best gif experience a website could offer by investing in strong computer architecture, including powerful content delivery networks (CDNs) and clever optimization methods. CDNs are a web of interconnected servers that speed up content delivery.
This technology allows Gfycat to offer fast loading times and the ability to play, pause, reverse, and manipulate the speed of gifs. As of 2022, Gfycat had more than 2.5 million active users in 160 countries.
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3 useful tools to make the best gifs
Despite the millions of gifs in existence, finding the perfect gif for personal or professional purposes is not always possible. Gif generators allow you to turn video clips into gifs, edit existing gifs, and compress gifs into stickers to use on social media.
Make A gif
Make A gif offers a comprehensive gif-making experience that allows you to create new gifs from pre-existing files, Facebook or Youtube videos, or screenshots or videos in your camera roll. The platform also serves as a free image hosting service, allowing you to upload newly created gifs directly to Make A gif's public gallery.
Creating an account is free, but a paid subscription is required to access high-resolution gifs with faster load times.
Unlike many gif platforms created for entertainment purposes, Recordit was designed to create lessons and tutorials. The site allows you to screen record short, demonstrative videos for educational purposes.
Simply drag your cursor over the area you wish to record, press capture, and create clips. Instead of turning files into videos, Recordit transforms them into gifs.
If you have a video you’d like turned into a gif, VEED.IO is a great resource. Whether you have a YouTube channel and want to turn your latest upload into a gif-able moment or need to convert an instructional screen recording to a playable loop, this online platform makes the process simple. Just upload your video to VEED, then trim, crop, and add text until you’re satisfied with the final product.
Remember, you should only create gifs from content you own. Don’t download copyrighted material you don’t have permission to use.
The gift of gifs
Gifs can help visitors better understand a website, product, or service. They give viewers enough context to understand what a brand is about without distracting them or harming your load time with buffering videos.
They’re also a powerful tool for any support team. What better way to guide a user through a problem than a quick animated walkthrough? Instead of writing a detailed step-by-step guide, use a gif to quickly demonstrate how to navigate or use a specific part of a mobile app or website.
Gifs are a great alternative to static images. Now that you know how to make a gif, take full advantage of the power and versatility of gifs with our tools and resources. Use them on your website, app, or marketing channels and bring your content to life.