Sharing the Essentials of Animated Gifs for Public Services

Apr 24, 2015

Animated gifs are increasingly found throughout the digital experience of today’s users. They offer a dynamic presentation of information in a format that can be both more performance-effective and cost-effective than standard video or images, making them valuable for federal teams looking to bring their programs to the modern digital space and improve customer satisfaction.

To find out how animated gifs can be developed to measurably improve public services, we hosted “Essentials of Animated Gifs for Gov” for almost 200 managers in the SocialGov Community of Practice through DigitalGov University. We’d like to share with you the recording of this webinar, along with along with key highlights from our presenters.

Notably, this became the highest rated SocialGov webinar based on user feedback from a post-event survey. By popular demand, we will follow-up with another article highlighting the practical and efficient ways other agencies are using this training to develop and use animated gifs in their digital programs.

Define your objectives and bring services to where citizens are

An animated gif for an Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) event

Michael Thomas of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence often hears when it comes to social media the saying, “well, if the intelligence community can do it…”

At ODNI, they are embracing animated gifs as an effective medium for communication, including web design infrastructure. He said that his team is responding to their audiences’ need for immediacy and information saturation.

Thomas also said that there are lots of tools available to make gifs, but the real key to getting started is a use case including:

  • Contextualize a quote or event
  • Condense information
  • Condense time or process
  • Create a narrative
  • Create a meta-narrative
  • Portray a juxtaposition
  • Use as a design element

Animated gifs and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (.pptx presentation, 10 MB)

Repurpose user-generated content for cost-efficient programming

kids handshake

Erika Brown of the Peace Corps has a world of content to choose from—literally—when generating gifs for her own site or something clever for a third-party. She said:

  • Leverage user generated content to tell your organization’s story, and find opportunities to give quality content a second life.
  • Make sure to get approvals from appropriate stakeholders, most importantly, the people who created the content.

Peace Corps and Animated Gifs (.pptx presentation, 5 MB)

Create eye catching and easy to follow tutorials and instructions

18f animated code

Melody Kramer of GSA’s 18F has been on the cutting edge of new media, but shares how she uses animated gifs in the most practical way: for tutorials and education. She demonstrated how and why she creates instructional gifs, which any organization can do.

In the webinar, she demonstrated how to:

  • Use animated gifs to explain how people can do a certain task, such as how to sign into a website, or how to set privacy settings on a website. For example, 18F used animated gifs in a tutorial for how to use the command line and the terminal.
  • Try a free, open source program called LiceCap to create tutorial and instructional animated gifs.

Animated Gif Tutorials with 18F

Animated gifs should meet accessibility standards

Pokemon in a player

Victoria Wales of USAGov and USAGov en Español (formerly known as educates federal managers on the importance and the process of enhancing the accessibility of digital services for citizens with disabilities: animated gifs are no different and present their own unique challenges.

In order to help meet those challenges, she suggested:

Accessibility for Animated Gifs (.pptx presentation, 3 MB)

Use U.S. government records to bring history to life

A black and white animated gif of a gyrocopter flying past the Washington Monument.

Darren Cole of the National Archives and Records Administration showcased the diverse source documents used to create compelling animated gifs that breathe new life into historical records, including images from the last time a gyrocopter flew to Capitol Hill almost 100 years ago. He recommended:

  • Use animated gifs to make your content engaging and government records relevant to modern communities.
  • Make your own .gov gifs with free, public domain sources from the National Archives catalog.

Gifs from Government Records (.pptx presentation, 3 MB)

Disclaimer: All references to specific brands, products, and/or companies are used only for illustrative purposes and do not imply endorsement by the U.S. federal government or any federal government agency.