I’m not one for Flash, but many web designers obviously use it. Some for interactivity and others for animation. In the web environment the latter is a replacement for animation formats of days old: animated GIFs. But Flash isn’t supported in the email environment, so for web designers accustomed to using animation to communicate a message are left searching for alternatives. Enter animated GIFs.
I’m not going to argue about whether animated GIFs are a sufficient replacement for Flash or whether they are the devil or anything else of that nature. Rather, I’m simply going to share what I’ve learned about support for them in the email environment. The results are dizzying, so try to keep up.
Every single email client I tested supports animated GIFs. Well, except for one: Outlook 2007. Big surprise. Though if you carefully plan your animation, this news may not be so bad. Outlook 2007 displays the first frame of the GIF as a static image. So if your first frame works as a static image, you are in good shape.
I’m like a mother sharing advice you don’t necessarily want but that you do actually need. So I have some helpful tips for you regarding use of animated GIFs:
Don’t forget about accessibility. If you use animated images to tell a story, ensure everyone gets the message. Consider those with low or no visibility, slow connections and those who pay per kilobyte on their mobile devices.
Learn from history. Blinking, strobing or streaking text or graphics sucked in 1999 and they suck now, too. Leave the annoying animations behind.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Enough said.
Be creative. Just as any tool in web design, we can use animated GIFs to enhance our message in non-invasive ways.
So that’s where animated GIFs stand in the email environment. Enjoy if you must.