ITS Digital Signage

Digital Sign Content Best Practices

Follow these guidelines to make the most of your screen designs:

Begin by Designing for Accessibility

Providing access to users with disabilities is not just a good idea, it's fast becoming the law. A few adjustments will do the trick, and besides, most of these guidelines will help all users:

Text should be easily visible at a reasonable distance from the sign.

Interactive signs should have alternative accessible designs.

Consider Your Sign's Likely Viewing Pattern

There seem to be three distinct viewing patterns for digital signage:

  1. example of a digital sign showing a simple message about an upcoming deadline
    Example: Point of Transit sign (Enlarge)

    Point of Transit

    When a sign is located in a busy hallway, viewers are likely to see the sign only momentarily as they pass by. Their attention is fleeting and you cannot guarantee at what point in a rotation you may catch their attention. This viewing pattern is best for single, very simple messages that rotate in order to attract attention.

    Examples might include:

    • reminders of imminent deadlines ("Students: drop/add deadline is Thursday")
    • campaigns to change behavior ("Remember to check Dental Google+")
    • announcements of an important event happening any moment ("James Earl Jones speaks in Room 210 at noon").

    Design here should be simple so as not to distract from the message.

    Signs in this viewing pattern tend mostly to be static in nature; that is, users cannot interact with these signs (via touch or other means) in order to accomplish functionality. These are simply signs to be looked at.

  2. example of a digital sign showing an interactive map of the Rackham building
    Example: Point of Wait sign (Enlarge)

    Point of Wait

    When a sign is located in a lobby, by an elevator, near a service desk—anyplace where people are expected to wait for a bit of time—you have more freedom with content. This viewing pattern lends itself to longer messages, and is best for:

    • informative content (upcoming events, directory/wayfinding information, news)
    • brand-building content
    • feel-good content (fun local trivia, positive news, very brief spotlight on a staff member, etc.) that shortens the perceived wait time.

    Design can also be more rich and detailed if desired, as people will have more time to study it.

    Signs in this viewing pattern tend mostly to be interactive in nature, allowing touch input to facilitate user navigation through menus, wayfinding via maps, scrolling through content, and use of other functionality.

  3. example of a digital sign showing a coffeshop menu
    Example: Point of Sale sign

    Point of Sale

    When a sign is located in a retail space, either near products or by the register, the expectation is that the viewer has a bit more time to read and that the content on the sign may be helpful to him/her in making purchasing decisions.

    Uses for this viewing pattern could be:

    • general information, such as menus of products/services and store hours
    • calls to action, such as announcing a sale, touting a specific product, or making an appeal for donations to a cause

    Strong design may be most important here, where sales rely on brand and visual appeal.

    Signs in this viewing pattern tend mostly to be static in nature.

Keep It Simple

Even in the Point of Wait and Point of Sale viewing patterns, digital signage is not a place for writing paragraphs. It is more communications at a glance, so think of your viewers grabbing snatches of content at a time.

Optimize Your Visuals

Call to Action

Getting your viewers to act requires a simple, strong, clear message.

Consider These Others

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