By Ryan Cahoy, Managing Director, Rise Vision
Ryan Cahoy, managing director at Rise Vision
Digital displays - tasked with conveying information quickly, impressing viewers, and getting attention - are up against a staggering legacy left by the clunky, proprietary systems of the past. But, the same basic principles of good design apply to digital signage more than ever before. Following these seven rules will increase your odds of getting your digital signage noticed.
One of the most common mistakes when designing for large displays is trying to do everything. The conversations typically start innocently enough, and as ideas evolve, you may notice what developers call ‘feature creep’ - all those extra features someone, somewhere asked for, that go beyond the product’s primary function, and can lead to bloat and over-complication. Keep your design - and your thinking - simple. If your primary intent is to highlight donors, for example, resist the temptation to add schedules, wayfinding, and a Twitter stream to your donor recognition wall.
HTML5 is the new standard, and we better take notice. The good news is that responsive HTML5 content beats proprietary and expensive every time. Historically, the digital signage industry had a very niche focus, which meant inaccessible and costly software and hardware. Those barriers were getting in the way of delivering great experiences to consumers. At Rise Vision, we believe the future of digital signage belongs to the web. It’s great news for content creators and consumers, as collectively we stand to benefit from a multitude of content choices and web-based tools, widgets, data, visual assets, and templates.
HTML5 is the new standard
Every digital display has a job to do. You are going to have a thousand great ideas, and you might want to put it all on those big, beautiful screens. It can be hard to narrow your focus. And, yet, that’s the single best tip to creating amazing displays. If you have trouble narrowing down your content focus, remember to pick one or two ideas and just get started. You don’t know what you don’t know, and as you begin working, you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t. You will be able to adjust your content and ideas accordingly. You can always change and update your displays to add more details later, so park all those extra ideas. To stay focused, think about Yahoo versus Google: Yahoo’s page is crowded with everything from news to weather. Google just gives you the blank page and a search window. A focused call to action always wins.
The digital signage industry benefits from collaboration almost as much as we stand to benefit, collectively, from HTML5. We’re free to create great content, use licenced content and follow open source models to perfect and remix designs. We can borrow from libraries, the web community, and from open-source repositories. We can do things that used to be expensive and take a lot of work, like subtle animation. Bottom line: it’s easier than ever to make cool content. But to make it all work seamlessly, we need to collaborate like never before. You may have the best hardware and software, but it’s meaningless without good design. So, ditch that PowerPoint - it’s useless if your media players don’t work. We need to get all the pieces right. The only way forward is through radical collaboration.
Big screens can be demanding. You will need to test your content. You will need high resolution assets. Transitions that looked great on a laptop screen may not look as amazing on large displays, right off the bat. You will need to closely monitor the quality of your images, sound, and animation.
Rise Vision Directory
Consider the context: How large are your displays? Where will they be located? From what distance will people be viewing them? What kind of orientation will be used? Are you dealing with video, images, animations? Are you going full-screen or breaking it up into different zones? In short, consider all the details that go into creating a beautiful and informative visual experience for your customers. Resist the urge to cram too many things onto your displays, and consider your context for maximum impact.
You’ll want to accommodate for a wide range of literacy and language skills. Don’t rush it: can you read the copy backwards before it transitions? Try it. It’s a good way to gauge whether a slow reader will have time to comprehend your message. Who are your users and what are their expectations? Be consistent. Today, mobile screens often dictate user expectations and design trends. Luckily, all screens large and small benefit from the capacity for accessible design. Show some empathy for consumers. In our fast-paced world, single-purpose design beats the jack-of-all-trades approach.
Digital Signage Federation
These fundamental design principles will help your displays stand tall and proud. What are some of your tips and tricks?
Author Ryan Cahoy will be a panelist on the Digital Signage Federation’s September “Hangout” discussion entitled, “Tips, Tricks & Tools For HTML5 Content Creation,” on September 9 at 2pm EDT. More information on this and other DSF events can be found on the DSF website. Both DSF members and non-members may join this or any of the DSF’s scheduled Hangout conversations for free – but registration is required and can be accessed on the “Knowledge Resource Page” of the DSF website at http://digitalsignagefederation.org/knowledgeresources