Paul Boag recently blogged about reviving the animated GIF for subtle user interface improvements, specifically in web pages. Whilst this is open to much abuse, it is definitely a viable solution when used sparingly and appropriately.

Taking this concept forward, it struck me animated GIFs could also work really well for improving the design of HTML emails. Whilst inline videos are difficult to embed in HTML emails, animated GIFs aren’t as restrictive.

Take the Kenneth Cole example from Paul’s post into consideration…

If you received an email with a photograph that suddenly moved, it would certainly grab your attention, provoke you to continue reading and, ideally, continue to the website.

If your design would benefit from a simple motion or transition such as, an animated GIF could be the answer.

I appreciate this is hardly a groundbreaking suggestion but what are your thoughts? Have you used animated GIFs in HTML emails for improving the message? Can you see any caveats in the concept? I’d love to get some feedback on this.