So we've recently started experimenting with animated GIFs, sometimes called cinemagraphs, and exploring their use in terms of web design and functionality. We love them, and we think they can be used to communicate something a little different than your standard static image. The effect can be subtle:
This kind of thing is good large-scale, maybe for backgrounds - it looks like a static image, for the most part. The movement is sort of in the corner of your eye, and takes a user by surprise. Or maybe you want something a little more "in your face"...
So the question, at this point, is how to effectively implement this design tool. One way is to use it to highlight functionality, like the way we show how our websites look on mobile devices. It's a great way to showcase how something works, instead of just how something looks.
Another great way to use cinemagraphs is as short "clips" for larger videos. We can take any video clip and create a GIF from it - great for showing off your video production chops without making people load an entire video. Check out Ronin Productions Film+Media for a look at how that works. Any video can be made into an animated GIF - it's a great effect!