#NationalGifDay | GIFs in design and content creation

Not a day goes that you won’t come across a GIF. Whether on social media or websites, GIFs are essential and shouldn’t be brushed aside.

On 5 September 2020, GIPHY launched National GIF Day, which is becoming a regular occurrence year after year. Share your favorite GIF on 5 September with the hashtag #NationalGifDay.


What exactly is a GIF?

Let’s recap quickly what a GIF actually is. If you didn’t already know, a GIF is an image that moves on a loop. It may be an animation, a movie clip or an innovative design that appears to go on forever. 

The very first GIFs were seen on the pages of the GeoCities website in the 90s as small animations that added a fun touch to designs. The first GIF in the history of digital communication was an airplane flying through the sky. The way the clouds moved on a loop made the airplane look like it was flying

GIFs were pushed into the background as web design evolved, until they made a comeback thanks to the huge database created by GIPHY, where the best GIFs of the moment can be found and created.  Their use became widespread after several years and is now as commonplace as calling an Uber. 

The importance of GIFs on social media and in content creation

Let’s do a quick test. Open your cell phone and sign in to any of your social media accounts. Start browsing and take note of the first GIF you see. I bet it will take no more than a minute, or even less. 

GIFs are no longer a novel concept for occasional use; they are a type of digital content and are just as important as videos and animations. GIFs on social media tend to take the form of animated memes, GIF reactions for use in messaging and even in brand advertising.


Where else can you recall seeing a GIF? On blogs, of course! BuzzFeed started off with the mass use of GIFs on blogs, articles and listicles. Today, many blogs include one or more GIFs to illustrate the story published. 

Content creators are usually experts in GIF creation. From finding the best movie and series clips to designing fun graphics to share on social media. 

Some brands collaborate with GIPHY to create series of GIFs to promote events, campaigns and promotions. Likewise, anyone can create a GIF on GIPHY and upload it to the public gallery, where it can be downloaded and used by others. The only way is up for GIF marketing! 


Interactions and transitions with GIFs

Beyond their use on social media and in content, GIFs can be found more and more in interface design as micro-interactions and transitions. A micro-interaction is a browsing process that is animated or that moves interactively. A transition is the scroll movement on a website or a change when a button is pressed.

The most common micro-interactions are animated “loading” icons. An animated GIF holds the visitor’s attention, particularly if it is eye-catching. Flaticon’s animated icons, for example, are perfect for use as animated micro-interactions in GIF format. 

In the case of transitions, GIFs of any size can be used. An animated movement or a composition change can be achieved with a GIF activated by scrolling or clicking. There are no limits to what can be done with this technique, leading to unique and extremely eye-catching creations.

Create GIF micro-interactions with Flaticon

Flaticon offers a large library of animated icons in GIF format (among others) to use as micro-interactions in your designs. Here are a few ideas for using Flaticon’s animated icons as GIF micro-interactions:

  • In the navigation menu, the icon becomes animated when the mouse hovers above it
  • As a display icon in display modules.
  • In forms to ensure that a cell is filled out.
  • In the transitions between website sections.
  • As a part of buttons that become animated when pressed.

Now it’s over to you. Visit Flaticon’s collection of animated icons and choose the ones you like the most to use in your UI projects or on your social media.