October 17, 2018
Digital Signage Tips and Tricks

Digital Signage Best Practices

Guidelines for Designing and Managing Digital Signage

We understand the struggle; you’ve invested in this new technology, learned a new system and now no one is looking at the dang screens! First off you’re not alone. Too often we see people struggle to keep their audience engaged with digital signage and more often than not, it’s easy to course correct.

Digital signage is so much more than an expensive PowerPoint presentation. We’re not saying you need to hire a Marketing Team and a Graphic Designer to get your message out, but making little changes within these departments can take your screens from wallpaper to an invaluable business impact tool.

4 Pillars of Engaging Digital Content:

  • Design
  • Motion
  • Audience
  • Duration

1. Digital Signage Design Fundamentals

When laying out your message, take extra time to focus on alignment and hierarchy of information. You need to be aware of how elements are lining up on screen as well as having a clear headline and call to action. If all your text is the same size your viewers don’t know where to look. When information lines up and your message is clear you have a greater chance of keeping the eye of your audience.

Next, let’s talk about the use of space. Typically digital signage is created on a 16:9 canvas; that can make reusing that flyer you made a little tricky. Something that is designed to be printed will never look right or be easy to read on a digital screen. Too often you’ll see images floating in the middle of the screen effectively making ⅔ of the canvas dead space.

Pull things out, create a sense of urgency and most importantly LET THINGS BREATHE. Take only the most important information you’re trying to get across to your audience and make that the focus. Realign your information to fill the horizontal space so things don’t feel squished. This will make your message more readable and easier to digest.  

Finally, we need to focus on colors, and I don’t just mean making sure you have that perfect Pantone match from your brand guide (though branding is important). Your use of color can greatly impact audience attention. A muted color palette with no contrast can quickly turn into white noise.

Furthermore, using loud colors that clash and vibrate off one another can have the same eye-deflecting effect. Stick to a complementary color scheme and only use one or two pops of color to bring attention to your headline or call to action. More often than not your brand colors are already set up to do that.

2. Digital Media Must Have Motion

Remember that wallpaper effect we talked about earlier? If you’re not going to have motion on your screens then you should have invested in posters. Incorporating motion helps to draw eyes to the screen and reinforces the habit of looking back to the screen for information. 

The freedom to have truly dynamic content is what makes digital signage such an effective tool over static solutions. If animation isn’t your strong-suit; leverage easy animation tools like Keynote and PowerPoint.

We know you can't turn every slide into a ticker tape parade, but including some motion is crucial to keeping eyes on the screen. There’s a simple rule to follow with motion: it’s great to have on all slides, good to have on most slides, but a must-have on some slides.

3. Know Your Digital Signage Audience

Know your Audience. (Okay, now we’re really rolling our sleeves up.) Seems like a simple concept; you should know who is looking at your screens, right...right?!

Knowing your audience is much more than just knowing who you’re addressing. There are many factors that come into play, but it’s easiest to look at it this way: screen location dictates your audience and your audience dictates your content.

You wouldn’t want to run a brand marketing video in a break room or a run a women’s clothing promotion in the men's section. Screen location and environment type will set the pace for your entire experience. Knowing who will be looking at a particular screen can be the linchpin in the effectiveness of your broadcast tool.

The first mistake most content creators make is thinking their digital signage is the same thing as their website. Think billboard, not website. In the same way, your website needs to be altered and formatted for mobile access, your content needs to be tailored to maximize effectiveness on a digital screen.

This brings me to the second mistake most everyone makes, not limiting their text. Unless you have George R.R Martin writing copy for your screens, no one wants to read a novel. Bloated messaging overloads the audience with information they don’t have the time to read and retain. 

Don’t try to force feed your whole message on the screen. Use your design fundamentals to parse out the truly important information and create a call to action to encourage your audience to learn more.

The last and often biggest mistake we see content creators make is not having a call to action at all. If you’re looking for a tangible ROI from your screens, look no further than what you’re actually asking of your audience. 

Digital signage is a reinforcement tool made to complement your existing communication channels. Make sure you’re creating a feedback loop by asking something of your audience. Make sure you’re avoiding long URLs; leverage short links and your internal lexicon to point people toward an action.

4. Keep Screen Time Top of Mind

This is the big one; how long should a campaign play?

Believe it or not, this is the easiest one, 10 to 15 seconds is the sweet spot. Again, think billboard, not website. On average a person will look at a screen for around 10 seconds, longer if something on the screen is moving. 

If your slides are in that sweet spot and your audience is saying they still don’t have time to take in the information, you likely have too much information on the screen.

If you’re running a video, try to keep the duration under a minute and a half so not to lose the attention of your audience. Not only is it okay to break up your message with video, but it’s also encouraged.

Incorporating these best practices are the first steps to taking your deployment to the next level. If you want to learn more about what other companies are doing be sure to check out our series on Business Impact or attend one of our Audience Engagement Webinars.

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