Add GIF Animations to Your Next HTML Email Newsletter

When I joined the board of AIGA Cincinnati, one of my duties I quickly found out was to help send out the email newsletters to our members. 

I won’t go into the long process of how to design an HTML newsletter (mostly because I wrote a whole chapter about it Professional CSS, 2nd Edition), but one curiosity I came across was that email clients support of GIF animations.

So, when it came time to build out the In Control Web Design Workshop Conference email announcement, I took up the challenge to integrate animation into the newsletter:

It’s neither subtle nor interfering. The animation is more of a compromise in its use, which is how I think most animations destined for email blasts to members should be. 

However, I will mention that when I first found out about this availability, I had thought of doing a Halloween animation in a similar vain to that car ad with a ghost in it.

So, next time you are designing an email newsletter to your customers or members, try adding a bit of animation to the mix and see if you get any beneficial results. 

4 thoughts on “Add GIF Animations to Your Next HTML Email Newsletter

  1. You do have to be careful with stuff like this — any change like that immediately distracts a user’s attention from what they were doing (like reading the content of your newsletter). If you’re just sending out general, informational newsletters I say go for it.…but if you’re sending out an email marketing message where you’re actually trying to get your users to do something it’s probably better to avoid it to allow your users to focus on the task at hand.

  2. File size is something to keep in mind. Even if your gif comes in at around 1mb, on a 56k modem (which people still do use surprisingly) your email can take a couple minutes to fully download. If the mail piece is for marketing purposes, a long load time can kill it’s effectiveness. This is esspecially important if you have other images included in the mailing as well.

    It’s an interesting idea — but should be used sparingly and for specific purposes. I would suggest really examining how it’s used.

  3. I am not surprised to see animated GIFs making a comeback. They are very useful for adding a simple level of “coolness” to a site (or HTML Email). The problem was the ugly nasty flashy stuff people were throwing around 10 years ago (and still today, to a lesser extent). When it’s designed to accent what’s already there, as it is in this video clip, it’s very practical and useful, and requires fewer resources than Flash. It adds a lot to the user experience. Kudos.

  4. @Karlyn AIGA Cincinnati usually sends out an email blast that mixes between newsletter/calls for action. Maybe crafting messages that have one singular call-for-action is in order for the group.

    @Tony Leo File size is always an issue. If an animation is around 1MB, it’s time to do something else! 

    @danielfowler Agreed. It’s always in the best interest of the animation to compliment or reinforce the message of the content, not be the message.

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