To GIF or Not to GIF

I’ve been a web developer for about 15 years. The internet is a different place now than it was back then. Remember Geocities pages full of animated GIFs? Because I do, and thank God we’re not doing that anymore.

GIFs aren’t the enemy. They’re pretty useful for little icons, buttons, and random graphics which use few colors. GIFs are ideal for certain applications; you can create a palette of colors by which you limit the color space of the image — thus saving space (kilobytes/megabytes). An icon with 4 colors won’t take up much space compare to the JPEG equivalent of the same image.

Enter animated GIFs…

Look, it’s 2019. GIFs are out — HTML5 is in. With it comes a crapload of awesome new improvements over HTML4.

The Smoking Barrel

You’ll notice in the example below the giant green line running the length of the page load. I had to kill the page after it ran for 90 seconds. Now that was under some test conditions mimicking a smartphone on Slow 3G and 4x CPU throttling (although the image shows other values when the screencap was taken).

Every other CSS, javascript file, image, and video loaded on the page — while the GIF just wasted precious page load time and bandwidth (at the expense of the user’s smartphone data plan and your web hosting bill).

Plus it’s a better user experience to have a fully loaded page. Mobile phone users will thank you too. The consequence is the user leaving your site altogether; a less than desirable alternative.

Did you know: As of 2019, there are more smartphone users than desktop users on the internet?

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