Are cinemagraphs still a thing in website design and do they really work?

If you would ever want to rephrase the famous verse “Video killed the radio star” into “video killed the photo content”, you wouldn’t be totally wrong. The truth is that video content in website design has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, but at the same time it came with extra costs: increasing website loading time and the need for more bandwidth to support a normal website performance. Good thing a new trend emerged, and we call it “cinemagraphing”.


What is a cinemagraph?

Cinemagraphs appeared in 2011, at the initiative of American photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who wanted to make their fashion and lifestyle photography a little more interesting. It was only in 2015 when this visual format really became a thing, as big brands started to use them in promotional campaigns. Although they are spread all over the internet in video or GIF format, cinemagraphs are rather an ingenious combination of photo and video, in which only certain elements in the image are moving.

Cinemagraphs have proven to be quite handy in website design and have been confirmed to be very successful in raising online engagement. The benefits of cinemagraphs are extremely attractive: they require less bandwidth, but improve customer attention. In other words, cinemagraphs bring you the benefits of video content, with the technical characteristics of a photo. The subtlety of movement in an apparently completely static image is intriguing for many online users, and this helps capture the visitor’s attention. Another advantage is that the production of these types of visuals is not only extremely simple, but also quite cheap.

Creating a cinemagraph is pretty easy, as there are several online applications that can help you make one. There are applications that can be downloaded directly to your smartphone that turns your video into a static image and you can select to keep the movement of only a few elements. Cinemagraphs are effective because they keep a seemingly inscrutable movement: a blink of an eye, a wind breeze, a cigarette smoke or coffee steam. The surprise element is what amazes the visitor and makes him spend more time on your post or your website.

The interesting thing is that, even though cinemagraphs have been included in top design trends for quite a while, very few websites have actually included them into their design. That is why, users are still pleasantly surprised whenever they encounter them online.


How to use cinemagraphs in your online strategy?

Cinemagraphs are a good advertising tool for any kind of business. The focus time users grant to online content has been constantly decreasing. It is now said that 55% of visitors stay on an article for only 15 seconds or even less. Making them pay attention to your message is more and more of a struggle. This is why cinemagraphs are interesting to use in advertising purposes. As consumers are bombarded with photos and videos every day, a cinemagraph is an element that can break the routine of traditional advertisements or promotional posts. While the photos illustrate only a frame in a story, and the movies require time and commitment from consumers to view them all the way, a cinemagraph is a perfect combination between the two: it can be quickly understood and it sends the message cleverly, without interrupting a person’s activity for too long.

Also, cinemagraphs can become viral more easily and they encourage a high engagement on social platforms. The format is very accessible to users, so they can easily circulate on all social networks, whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. When included in website design, they bring a certain “je ne sais quoi” (French for special and intriguing), making the design attractive, while using little loading resources, which means that the website will still load quickly on any browser.

Cinemagraphs are extremely intriguing and exciting and, properly used, they can take any business out of the anonymity of the internet. Just have a little inspiration and the desire to experience.

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