Moving Design Research: GIFs as Research Tools

Heidi R. Biggs, Cayla Key, Audrey Desjardins, Afroditi Psarra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Animated GIFs are often viewed as a nod to early internet culture or as tools for digital communication, but in this pictorial, we highlight a new use of GIFs, as tools for design research. We walk through four case studies from our own research that exemplify GIFs used throughout the design process as empirical probes, prototypes, communication tools, and finalized artifacts. By conducting a collaborative, reflexive analysis of these cases, we present an annotated portfolio of the goals, crafting and aesthetic choices of our GIFs and how creating GIFs added to our research. We conclude by noting that both the aesthetics of movement and the rich, concise, and contextualized nature of gifs added to our depth of thinking and ability to communicate speculative and imaginative concepts. Finally, we also suggest that research dissemination, especially for design research, would be enriched by supporting more diverse knowledge-production artifacts such as GIFs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDIS '21
Subtitle of host publicationDesigning Interactive Systems Conference 2021
EditorsWendy Ju, Lora Oehlberg, Sean Follmer, Sarah Fox, Stacey Kuznetsov
Place of PublicationNew York, US
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781450384766
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2021
EventACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2021) conference: “Nowhere and Everywhere” -
Duration: 28 Jun 20212 Jul 2021


ConferenceACM Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2021) conference
Abbreviated titleDIS2021
Internet address


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