Animated infographics, aka gifographics, are awesome for explaining tricky concepts. It’s a shame their use in technical marketing is rare.
If you don’t know what I’m on about, an infographic is a visual depiction of valuable info or data. An animated infographic includes simple GIF animations to make it more telling and engaging. Hence the name gifographic – a portmanteau of GIF and infographic.
You can see some of our animated infographics here.
This blog will discuss why you should use gifographics to explain your technical solutions and share your knowledge.
Animated infographics stand out
Today, there is so much competition for attention. It is estimated the average person encounters 10 000 ads per day.
And social media algorithms are ruthless. Unless you come up with top-notch content, there is no way you gain any traction. It is in the best interest of social media platforms to only put quality posts in front of eyeballs.
Given this, it’s hard to get noticed. Let alone get your point across.
One way to stand out from the crowd is to use animated infographics. Visual beauty attracts attention. If you can present your messages in a visually pleasing way, you have a better chance of getting through to people.
I also believe animated infographics have a novelty factor about them. Their use is not common, particularly in technical spaces. This may change in time, but for the moment I think presenting ideas in a gifographic will get noticed because it is still a fresh concept.
Why not skip on the animations and just make a static infographic? Static infographics can be good, but personally I think even small animations really bring content to life. It makes content pop from the screen. I don’t have any stats to back this up, but I would bet that engagement rates would be much higher for animated infographics.
Animated infographics convey technical concepts efficiently
Attention spans today are short. Very short.
This is a problem if you want to explain your technical solutions to the world. It can be hard to inform people because they may not want to invest the time in you. Therefore, the challenge for technical marketing is to explain your concepts efficiently.
Blogs and videos are two other forms of content that are great and will always have their place. But they’re not the best options for getting your points across quickly.
Maybe I’m being unfair to videos. However, my theory is that people won’t click on a video unless they know it’s exactly what they are looking for because doing so is a commitment. And unless they get validation quickly, they won’t continue watching for long.
How are animated infographics different? With good design, they can get the bulk of a message across in an instant. We’ve all heard the saying “a picture tells a thousand words”. As such, animated infographics can hook an audience even through incidental views and form the mouth of a marketing funnel.
And once again, why not skip the animation? Almost all technical concepts – from machine dynamics to software workflows – involve some sort of movement or transition. Animation can therefore be used to explain these better than static annotations.
Animated infographics are also good for allowing people to absorb info at their own pace. Unlike a video which is always progressing, an infographic is presented in the one illustration. A viewer can therefore scroll through it as quickly or slowly as they need.
Animated infographics are easy to produce and distribute
Making animated infographics is not as difficult as you might think. Having a bit of artistic flair helps. But even then I think a lot of the principles that make an infographic attractive can be learnt.
How to make your own animated infographics will be a topic for a future blog post.
One major advantage of the gifographic is how easily it can be distributed. Making awesome content is only half the battle. You have to make sure your target audience sees it. As animated infographics can be posted on websites, social media platforms and even in emails, they are great for getting your messages out to the world.
Addressing the downsides of the GIF
Yeah, the Gif is an outdated picture format. However, its downfalls should not stop you from making amazing content. Here’s why the issues of the GIF don’t really matter for animated infographics:
Limited colour palette
First of all, GIFs are restricted to 256 colours in each frame. As limited as this may be, it will barely be noticeable if you eliminate gradients as much as possible in your designs. Gradients suffer from limited palettes as there aren’t enough colours to make shading transitions appear smooth.
But if gradients don’t exist, then there’s no problem. Therefore, flat vector illustrations are best for animated infographics.
What if you have a logo and need to colour match it? GIFs actually have access to millions of colours, it’s just that they can only display 256 different ones in each frame. So getting the colours right where they need to be should not be a problem.
Large file size
Secondly, GIFs are inefficient at storing animation data. As a result, their file sizes are much larger than an equivalent MP4 file or other video format.
However, gifographics typically have very short animation durations of only a few seconds. This helps keep file sizes small even for large image sizes.
For example, a large infographic of 1200 x 2500 pixels and a loop duration of a couple seconds can be made to be around 2MB. This file size is manageable for websites provided there is not too much else to load on the page. The average webpage size is now around 2MB, so adding a large animated infographic will not blow loading times out of the water.
Alternative file formats
Thirdly, other file formats are available as substitutes to the GIF. But these do not tick enough boxes for animated infographics… yet.
If you run a website speed test of a page with a GIF on it, chances are one recommendation will be to replace GIFs with a video file like an MP4. Videos files are not suitable for large infographics as video players are restricted to common aspect ratios like 1920 x 1080 pixels for example. If you want a large portrait infographic to scroll through on a website, then a video file is not the format you are looking for.
In terms of animated image files which are suitable, there are also the APNG and WebP file formats. These are both much newer than the GIF. They have greater colour depth and store animation data more efficiently.
However, GIF files are still the best option, for the moment at least. The reason being, APNG and WebP files don’t have universal support from all internet browsers. Some will only show a static version of the image, or possibly not show it at all.
APNG and WebP images are also a bit trickier to make. While GIFs can be made in Adobe Photoshop, APNG or WebP images require additional software or plugins. These generally have limited functionality and give you less control over the output.
And while they more efficiently store data, I haven’t found straight forward ways to compress APNG and WebP to the same size as a GIF. In other words, APNG and WebP quality is higher and their like-for-like file size is smaller than GIF, but limited output settings make their file size too large for infographics.
So the term ‘gifographic’ is safe for now. It might just have enough time to catch on.