WebsiteCompass 13 The graphics interchange format (GIF) has been around since the 1980s and is still used regularly to express humor, happiness, frustration, and other emotions, or to simply convey information. Here we explore popular uses for GIFs and offer ideas to enhance your online conversations. Express Yourself with a GIF Add interest to social media posts, texts, emails, and more Good Uses for GIFs GIFs, which typically appear in the format of brief, soundless video loops, can be used in numerous ways in both personal and professional communications. Here are a few examples: • In a Facebook post, instead of writing “LOL” or using a laughing emoji, you can post a GIF of a well-known TV show character—such as Kitty from That 70s Show —laughing. • In a text message, rather than responding “yes” to a question from a friend, you could send a GIF of animated letters spelling out, “YES!” • In an email to coworkers about an upcoming company party, you could include a GIF of professionals holding drinks, wearing party hats, and dancing. • In a PowerPoint presentation for work, you could place an animated image of a graph line moving upward on a slide about rising revenue. How GIFs Got Going As noted above, the first GIFs appeared in the 1980s. That’s when then CompuServe employee Steve Wilhite was tasked with developing a way to include images in a small file format that would display across all computer systems. Wilhite created the GIF format, meeting the assignment’s requirements. Netscape, the first browser to allow interactive images, made the GIF a standard. The first GIFs to appear widely included “under construction” notices, which were common when many companies were still developing their first websites, and the famous (and famously creepy) “dancing baby.” Back to Basics QUICKTIP: GIF stickers are GIF files with transparency around the edges that can be used in similar ways to animate GIFs.