Choosing the right navigational signage for your campus can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task. Assuming you’re going for digital signage, which is more flexible and less wasteful than print, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to hardware. Understanding precisely which components are essential to your digital signage is crucial to your campaign success.
Before you can delve into the options available to you, you’ll need to answer some questions.
- What content do you plan to display? What kinds of file types will make up the content, will it be interactive, and what kind of layout will you use?
- Will you use one or more screens?
- Where will the screens be displayed? Are your screens indoors, outdoors, on a wall, in a window, hanging from a ceiling, lining a walkway, or set up on a table? Will your device(s) need to run 24/7?
- Can new hardware be integrated with your campus’ existing infrastructure? Do you need to update any of your existing software or hardware?
- How will you manage the device(s) within your digital signage network? Will you need remote access? Are you close enough to see the device or display?
- What is your budget? How much can you actually afford to spend and is that budget realistic for what you’re trying to achieve?
Answering these questions will allow you to begin to define goals and better understand what your hardware needs – if any – are. If you’re able to rate or weight the importance of certain elements, like remote access and particular location, you may be able to adjust your budget to match the critical needs and compromise in other areas.
By planning your navigational signage hardware requirements from the beginning, you’ll have armed yourself with the knowledge needed to choose the right goods for your needs.
Selecting Your Display Screen
Choosing the right screen for your campus signage is an important first step in launching your on-campus screen. Start by considering the difference between consumer and commercial grade screens and identify which you truly need as this can impact your price.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) screens are a popular choice for outdoor use but less-so indoors. They’re best used a larger distances due to their high pixel pitch, or distance between pixels.
Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD, is the standard for indoor signage. OLED screens are high-quality, have reasonable energy consumption, come in a variety of sizing options, and have choices at nearly every price point.
Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screens are becoming increasingly popular as prices drop. They’re so thin they can be curved to follow the shape of a wall or pillar, and have the richest color display.
If you’re still not sure which screen type is best, learn more about the difference between LCD and OLED screens here.
Pick your player
Choosing the right media player to support your on-campus digital signage can allow you to launch and manage your campaign seamlessly. As a general rule, expect to have one digital media player for every one display or screen.
Media players come in three main categories: Media boxes, media sticks, and all-in-one solutions. The biggest difference between players are size, processing power, storage, memory and, of course, their prices. The goal(s) you have set for your campaign will help you to decide which player will best suit your campus signage needs.
Media boxes are the original player built for digital signage. They’re a big bigger than their media stick counterparts – about 5×7″ on average – and run on a variety of operating systems like Windows, Chrome, and OS.
Media sticks are the least expensive way to deploy your content, though you may run into limitations with performance and storage. A stick media player may be OK in a small campus setting, but for larger campuses they may not hold up as they’re usually made of plastic and are less durable.
All-in-one solutions are screens with their media players built right in. Their appeal lies in their one-stop solution, requiring no extra hardware for your media player. Simply set up, connect to your campus Wi-Fi, and away your displays go!
Select your mount
Depending on the location of your screen, determining how best to mount your campus signage. Unlike choosing your media player and screen, choosing the right mount for your signage is often dictated by location.
The most common options for digital screen mounting systems include:
- Flush: The simplest mount, positioned on the wall with the back parallel. Best for hallways or meeting rooms.
- Tilt: Mounts your screen on an angle, which is useful if your screen is located above eye level such as in a study hall or gathering area.
- Ceiling: Large spaces or limited wall space call for creativity. These mounts hang from ceilings.
- Pedestal: Rising from the floor, pedestal mounts work best in large spaces away from walls and best serve interactive screens – like campus maps or directories.
- Articulating: Mounts screen at the end of an arm so the angle and direction can be changed, a helpful feature in classrooms and lecture halls.
Want to go interactive?
Interactive content such as digital ticketing or library product catalogs is best suited to smaller devices like tablets and may benefit from guided access. If you need a larger screen – such as for a campus directory or map – large touch screens such as ELO are a great choice.
Planning the digital signage network best designed to meet your campus’ needs before investing in the hardware is a critical first step. Focus on plotting out the four main steps of your campaign – content, network management, location, and budget – and identify your objectives early on. From there, you’ll be best equipped to narrow down the hardware specifications you need based on what is most important to your campus.