Animated GIF images are an inescapable part of our online experiences, and more and more tools make it easier and easier to include them in our written communication. Sometimes this can be a good thing.
Sometimes. Not all times.
Before you include a GIF image – especially one that flashes or blinks or strobes – in your next chat message, please pause to consider the impact that this may have on the recipients.
Before you include a GIF, ask yourself:
- How many people will see this – is this a 1:1 chat, or is it a large group?
- Does the GIF include flashing, strobing, blinking, fast-moving images?
- Do any of the people who will see the GIF have photosensitive conditions like seizures or migraines?
- Are you sure?
- Does the software tool you’re using allow users to disable GIF autoplay?
I include this last point because Microsoft Teams does not provide any option to disable GIF autoplay. Seriously – even tough the UserVoice forum for Teams says that this was done in 2017, the Teams UX today does not provide any option for users to prevent GIFs from playing for them.
So if you are on a Teams meeting with 100 people and you post a GIF, everyone sees it. And odds are, that GIF you posted will mean that someone on the call will need to leave the call, or close the chat, or maybe end up in a dark room in pain for the rest of the day.
So please think before you GIF.