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Integrating digital displays and signage is a powerful way to improve OOH advertising across physical spaces. However, it also means either outsourcing presentation design for your displays or creating presentations for your displays in-house. If your organization already has a design team in-house, creating your own digital display presentations is the ideal solution. Here, you have to pay attention to considerations such as distance from screen, readability, attention-span, and new types of media that simply aren’t possible with print ads. This may require a significant shift in how designers approach media. If you’re designing your own displays using a CMS or templates, you also have to consider several basic tenants regarding

These design best practices for digital displays will get you started.

Keep it Simple

Designing for digital signage means taking a large stretch of space into account which often leads people to create multiple panels with more information and more ads. This is often a mistake, simply because the human attention span is limited. More movement and activity on one screen will draw more initial attention, but specific attention on each ad or item and retention will be significantly lower.

The result is that you should design displays with a limited number of elements to focus attention-span where you want it to go. Keep a presentation to the bare minimum of content you want consumers to focus on, use a significant amount of buffer space, and use white-space or blank space as a purposeful element of your design.

Integrate Multimedia (Sometimes)

Digital signage offers the opportunity to integrate more types of media and in different ways. In some cases, this can add value to your screens and your displays. However, you should do so with care. Simply integrating live TV into a corner of your ad won’t be very interesting, just distracting. Instead, you can integrate live data in relevant ways, such as tying in the time, weather, external traffic, room availability, or other details into the ad. You can also use scrolling presentations to change displays from paid ads (or ads displaying your own content) to infotainment and wayfinding information, so that you and the consumer see maximum value from the screens.

Here, your goal should be to integrate more types of media so that you can utilize your digital signage to its fullest extent, without over complicating displays or distracting from your main message.

Consider Distance-From-Screen and Viewing Angle

Distance-from-screen and viewing angle parameters are similar for digital signage and print banners, but there are some additional considerations. For example, LED displays must be viewed from a maximum of 6-10 feet away and often do not work well from side angles. LCD displays are much more versatile and work from several different angles. Most digital signage is in 3:5ths or widescreen format, which will be a consideration as well, although there are exceptions, especially in pillar or banner screens, which are often used for overhead menus.

This will affect font, how items are distributed across the screen, and pixels on-screen. For example, if the average person is viewing your screen from 30 feet away, text has to be legible from a minimum of about 50 feet, because many consumers will start reading before they approach.

Design for Your Environment

Your signage will be placed in different environments such as outdoors, indoors, in low or high light conditions, in the wind or rain, and with different levels of visibility. You have to design for the average visibility for your signage.

While some elements such as actual screen contrast will be updated by the display and software used to increase and decrease brightness and contrast depending on ambient light levels, you still have to design for the basic expectations for your environment. For example, if you know all signage will be displayed in strong light conditions, you know you need a high level of contrast and bold colors. Here, your largest concern should be contrast and legibility.

Integrate Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is the idea that you have to design content to be visible in the order you want consumers to notice it. This allows you to call out some messages by creating a visual hierarchy, leading consumers from a message to more information, to a call to action. This means strategically planning the visual hierarchy of your designs to call attention to the points you want attention on, in the order you want people to pay attention to them.

Message Duration and Timing

Message duration and timing affect how quickly you can scroll ads, the size of font and the amount of text you can use. Here, you also have to consider the duration of time spent in front of ads, based on viewing patterns or points. For example, consumers at a busy Point of Sale will likely spend a great deal more time looking at an ad than consumers walking by ads on the street or in an aisle. These are typically divided into:

  • Point of Transit – Consumers are walking from one place to another. They will not likely stop to view the ad. Viewing window will be a few seconds in most cases.
  • Point of Wait – Consumers are waiting for something. They may be queuing, in a lobby, at a service desk, in an elevator, etc. Actual wait times will depend on your standard level of traffic. These areas are much more suitable for longer ads, as well as infotainment and more engaging content.
  • Point of Sale – Consumers are actively making a purchase, which typically takes several minutes depending on traffic and what you’re selling.

Paying attention to how users are viewing your content will help you to improve the design, how you present messages based on when and how long individuals will be viewing them, and ensures that your messages can be read in their entirety by most people viewing your display.

At the end of the day, designing for digital screens is very similar to designing for print, so any design team on staff will likely be able to take on the task. If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, you may want to consider outsourcing presentation display to a third-party or hiring a contractor to complete the work for you.