You’ve probably seen digital signage before.
The term, digital signage, is new to a lot of people. The signage is also referred to as a digital display. Many of the displays are used in businesses that have physical locations.
Common businesses that use digital signage include restaurants, hotels, offices with waiting rooms and even banks and schools. These businesses have a lot of foot traffic and digital signage makes sense because the business is trying to get the visitors to take an action of some sort.
The opportunity for a designer like yourself is that businesses need designers and developers to create digital signage for them. Many of these business owners want digital signage. They see the competition starting to use signage and they want to keep up. Or perhaps the business owner wants to gain an advantage over the competition by adding something with more appeal to their business location.
That’s where you come in.
And the good news is digital signage design is not that different from web design.
Digital Signage and Digital Display Overview
We’ve touched a little on what digital signage is but let’s go over some of the basics to get you caught up on what exactly these displays look like and how they’re used.
This display is used in an eye center.
Digital signage is used for a variety of reasons. The signage adds another level of value to the visitors at a business with a physical location. There is an entertainment quality with digital signage. Instead of being print the signage can be more interactive and interesting for visitors. This is one of the qualities business owners like about signage and it’s one reason digital signage is becoming more common.
Business owners also like the flexibility digital signage offers. Once a tech installs the monitor at the location the business doesn’t need to worry about changing the actual display. Instead they work with a designer to make changes to the digital display depending on what the goals are for the signage.
These digital signage displays are used in a variety of businesses. We mentioned a few above and it’s likely that you’ve seen a few in places like the bank, the doctor office or even the local university.
Business owners need designers on their team to create these displays. This is an opportunity for you to earn additional revenue for your freelance or design business. As we mentioned above, the design is actually very similar to web design.
And just like a website design the digital display design for a specific company starts with the business goal.
Starting with a Business Goal
Each business will have a goal for their digital display. Usually the goal is to increase sales of a certain product or service. At a dentist office, for example, the goal might be to advertise and raise awareness for teeth whitening. The dentists and the hygienists will mention the service to the patients, but when people are waiting they can learn about the service by watching the digital display. They’re just sitting there with nothing to do so they’ll be looking for something to entertain them.
Dentists use digital signage to sell and to entertain patients.
When you start working with clients as them what the business goal is for the display. Having this goal in mind will help you with the design. It’s the same for a website design. When you both realize the goal it’s easier to start and revise the design to make sure it’s accomplishing the goal.
Sales are a common goal, but it could also be simple entertainment or education.
Once you have the goal in mind the design can start.
Basic Design Concepts
Digital signage design is similar to web design in many ways, but there are some unique concepts to consider. Digital signage is set against a wall or in the middle of a room at a physical place of business. It’s not like someone is sitting at their computer viewing a website. There are more distractions that keep people from looking at signs.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can overcome these distractions and really take advantage of digital signage.
Headlines, Type & Call-outs
Just like with websites, headlines are important on digital signage. The headline needs to attract attention while giving the viewer basic information about the display. Use contrasting colors and larger type for the headlines. Remember that people are scanning the room for something interest to focus their attention on. An interesting headline can grab that attention and get the person to read more into the design.
Great headlines on this design easily direct visitors to the next step.
Call-outs can work well too. Use things like quotes of information or other textual information to grab attention. People can’t resist a good headline.
One final note needs to be made about type. Don’t forget to focus on type. Fonts are important and so is sizing. Make sure the fonts work well together and with the business brand. Also make sure the most important elements on the design are called out the most with size and color. You don’t want viewers to lose focus on the business goal.
Graphics, Photos & Video
Graphics, photos and videos are often something people notice right away on a display. There is just something about the visual nature of these items that people find interesting.
TV makes for a great visual element on digital signage.
Digital signage should almost always include some form of graphic, photo or video. People notice headlines and type, but an original photo or video can really make someone stop and pay attention to the message of the digital sign.
Imagery tells a story and people like to see a story so they can comprehend the message. Stock photography can work fine, but if the business has original photography or is interested in having some taken professionally it would be better. Ask to see if there are any assets available. Do what you can work visuals into the display.
TV is another aspect of digital design, but let’s get into that in the next section about Internet feeds.
Internet Feeds and Apps
The great thing about digital signage is that it can easily connect to the Internet. This allows for all kinds of integration with feeds and apps. We mentioned television and it’s very easy for a digital sign to be connected to TV feeds from the Web (or from a regular cable or satellite feed at the business).
Here is a digital display using Internet feeds.
At a bank it might make sense to have half the monitor showing something like CNN while the other half is available for promotional space.
Feeds from news sites, weather sites and social media sites can also be used for digital signage. If the business has a news section on their website you can include the headlines. If the business has a Twitter or Facebook account you can use those feeds to bring in the real-time updates for people to view.
Any apps on the web can be used too. The only limit to the use of the Internet with the digital display is your imagination. Think back to the business goal for the digital display and use all the resources on the Internet to achieve the goal.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Digital signage is something business owners are using more. Some even realize that digital signage is a requirement at their place of business.
Digital signage is used for entertainment, education and sales. Some businesses use a simple display to direct people through their building or office while others use the displays for showcasing products and services.
As a designer, you have the opportunity to increase your revenue streams. If you have clients with physical locations we recommend you ask them about digital signage. They’re probably already considering it, but aren’t sure who to contact about creating it.
The opportunity is there. You already have the skills to create digital signage. Go ahead and try it with your clients and see if it’s something that can allow you to make more revenue.