10 rules for designing digital signage content – Harlem World Magazine
You have your digital sign or your big screen TV, and you have your Apple TV digital signage device to stream your content, and now all that’s left is the content itself.
Luckily, we live in a time where creating your own content is pretty easy and pretty cheap. So, before you start downloading free design software, here are some rules to guide your content creation process.
- keep it simple
This is the most common advice for digital signs and it’s still the most relevant. People have this tendency to make their sign content convoluted and fancy, and it always feels too busy.
- Be very selective with music and sounds
This is extremely important if your signs will be within earshot of the same people over and over again. Staff members are notorious for quitting their jobs because they’re tired of hearing the same number sign tunes over and over. Even sharp/quick/sudden noises can cause intense irritation in just a few days.
- Dynamic “attention seeking” isn’t always best
There’s something known as cereal box advertising, where you make your designs as loud and eye-catching as possible to get kids’ attention. This tactic works in some cases for digital signs, however, there are many occasions when it doesn’t. People who see your attention-seeking sign daily will begin to see it as visual white noise. Some passers-by or store visitors may find it too hectic and busy to pay attention. In short, if people have to “try” and/or “focus” in order to absorb your digital sign message, then you’ve done something wrong.
- Stick to the point
This ties in with the “Keep it Simple” advice, as many designers stray off topic and digital signs are not suitable for prolonged viewing. Therefore, you don’t have the luxury of getting into things like extra selling points, extra terms, or even extra features. You should stick to the point unless you have a captive audience (like in a waiting room, where more detail is sometimes acceptable).
- Length between repetitions
This needs to be refined once your content is complete. For example, mall owners who place their signs in their hallways will time the time it takes a passerby to reach the sign from when they first see the sign, and they will use that interval from time to time when the content of the digital signage needs to change. On the other hand, a company called “Shake Lab” has very long videos because their customers spend a lot of time waiting in their queues, so repeating the same videos very frequently is not profitable.
- Clearly define the different messages
If your digital sign has very different ads, perhaps if your sign sells ad space, it’s very important that your content designs are very different for each ad. They need different fonts, images, filters, colors, and even visual effects. Don’t use swipes or fades in the same ad, as this may trick people into thinking the ad has changed to something else.
- Add dates to calls to action
Calls to action on digital signs are not working. The idea that people will “buy now” when they read it on screen is very old fashioned. Instead, make people offers and give them dates when the offers end. If the PlayStation Store can do it, so can you.
- Movement is not always necessary
There is a tendency to move the content of the panels. It’s because people have moved from still images on posters to video screens, and so they feel they need moving content, but that’s not the case at all. A stationary sign is just as effective as moving content if done correctly.
- Bigger and simpler fonts
This problem raises your head a bit because people create their content on a PC. Their PC screen is close to them, so the fonts look too big. However, when content is on the panels and at a distance, the fonts and text size may appear too small, blurry, or too tight.
- Stay on brand
The creative process can get a bit convoluted and over time you start to lose focus as you spend your time perfecting your designs. You start to lose touch with your brand message, so end each refinement/improvement session with the question: “Does this educate people about your brand or reinforce your brand message?” More importantly, does your content contradict or violate your brand principles? Keep things on brand if you want to have the best promotional effect. Even if you only use your digital signs to show people your schedule or show them where the restrooms are, always put a little logo at the bottom so people think of your brand when they see the sign.
“Dr. Harry Delany is a renowned surgeon born and raised in Harlem, the son of the great jurist and civil rights leader, Hubert Delany….” This monthly post is written in Partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives.