Image that reads Skip Animated Gifs in LessonsAnimated Gifs are very distracting. Do not place these in the middle of teaching text where people are trying to follow instructions.

The purpose of an online course, or any other online instruction, is to teach the user something. The user experience needs to be focused on what facilitates learning.


I recently visited a tutorial page that featured an animated gif. Trying to read and follow written instructions with the distraction of crazy movement made it impossible to complete. I ended up copying the text and pasting it into a plain text document in order to extract what I needed to complete my tasks.

To view the gif, please scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Create Educationally Sound Lessons

When building your documentation, whether for an online course, blog post, or other delivery method make sure to keep the user in mind and select content that helps the user learn instead of distracting from it.  Creating content that is designed to help people learn using the science behind learning is known as creating educationally sound content.

In this case, the gif actually has nothing to do with the lesson. It appears to be something someone thought was cute.

If you do have an animated gif that is part of your instruction, for example something that shows the steps being carried out, consider placing this on a separate page or perhaps segregated after the text with a note pointing to it the way I have done in this post. The key is that you don’t want people having to focus on reading and following instructions while wild gesticulations are distracting them from their focus.

The Distracting Gif

Of course, Jim Carrey typing like crazy is funny. And for any of us working fiercely on writing deadlines, we may gravitate to this. However, it’s not appropriate or helpful to put into a ??

Save this for Twitter, other social media, your friends, and your own smile if needed. Always focus on the learner experience when creating online course lessons, blog posts, or other tutorials.