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Displaying the weather forecast on your digital signage display is a great way to draw attention and engage your audience. The weather is suitable for most settings, from restaurants and stores, to business offices and schools, so it is the perfect way to connect with people and create a bridge from their mind to your brand.
If you want to display the weather on your signage system but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll list the five main ways to show the weather to your audience. This can be a complicated process, but this list will help you choose which method is the right one for your business.
To consider before reading on, the type of signage system you have will affect which methods of displaying the weather, or content in general, will work for you. For example, most systems can read XML/RSS feeds while some can’t. Be sure to research your system and understand which methods are compatible.
If You Don't Have a Digital signage Solution
If you don't have a digital signage solution, the best option for any organization using 50 screens or less is Sign Presenter. I mention it below in the Apps/Widgets section, but if you're like me you like to cut to the chase. If you want weather on your digital signage and you don't have an existing solution, check out Sign Presenter.
Sign Presenter digital signage software was built to run on Amazon Firesticks (now Chromecast too), and it's my recommendation for most organizations that want to use digital signage. It's powerful, simple, and flexible even though it's cheaper than just about every other option.
Beyond the cost of the firesticks themselves, you'll want to sign up for a subscription to Sign Presenter and a license for each TV that is very affordable at $10/screen per month. With that, you get tons of features and a lot of flexibility, including:
- Use images, video, audio, and more
- Stream live video
- Schedule content to show
- Shuffle through content
- Pull in feeds of existing content
- Show TVs horizontal or vertical for your digital signage
- Continue showing digital signage without internet
- Create playlists to use over and over again
- Have multiple schedules for different playlists
If your business needs more than 50 screens, you may look to these other alternatives. If not, Sign Presenter is probably your best bet.
Now, we can hit the options for your existing digital signage.
XML feeds, and all other XML based communication, carry data, but don’t display it on its own. This means you need a separate way to display the data, like a template. This allows you to choose the format and style you want since it is not predetermined by the feed.
XML feeds are able to carry content as a whole; a three-day weather forecast, for example, and they update on their own. This is convenient since you won’t need to go in and update the data every hour, or even once a day.
To show weather content using XML format, you need to find a feed source. Many companies provide their information this way. Then, simply copy-and-paste the link into your system. Here I’ll list a couple of XML file resources:
· National Weather Service. This is a free resource for XML formatted files. It is a good idea to email or otherwise contact the NOAA for permission to use these files.
· WeatherOnYourSite. This website creates custom XML feeds tailored to your needs. Contact them via their website for specific details and pricing.
RSS feeds are a type of XML feed and are basic, automatic displays of information. Think of this; when you are watching TV and a red bar appears on the bottom of the screen to alert viewers of new weather information, like current conditions and warnings, or the stock market numbers on the news rising and falling every few seconds. These are RSS feeds.
RSS feeds are used to communicate only the latest information, they do not give the whole of the content available as XML feeds do. Like XML feeds, RSS feeds update automatically.
You can create your own RSS feed using online tools and local sources. This allows for customization of the content but requires more maintenance since you need to update it yourself.
Adding an existing RSS feed to your system is the same as using XML format: find a feed source, then copy and paste the link into your system. Here I’ll list a few RSS weather feed sources:
· National Weather Service. The NOAA has RSS files available as well as XML.
· RSSWeather. This website gives a very simple weather report. It may not have any bells and whistles, but it’s a great way to get you familiar with the basics.
Media RSS, or MRSS, is an RSS feed with extended content, like audio or video. This allows you to add visuals like a radar or weather broadcast, and audio like music or alerts. Regular RSS feeds are text only, so using MRSS is a great way to add visual appeal to your digital signage.
You’ll need to create your own feed using a computer software, but don’t let that intimidate you. NoviSign has an online studio editor that makes it easy, even for a beginner. You can use existing RSS feeds and add media of your choice to customize it to match your brand and style. There are endless options with this software to create beautiful, multifunctional digital signage.
This is the most customizable option, as it allows for your creativity to flourish. Your audience will get a sense of who you are as a brand or organization, and that is a huge attribute in the world of digital signage.
Many sources have switched from RSS feeds to API keys. API keys function similar to RSS feeds in terms of being user-friendly. Once you find the source you want to use, you request an API key and enter this into your signage system. Some of the major providers for API keys include:
· Yahoo Weather
· National Weather Service
· Weather Underground
Simply search the name of the source you’d like to use with the keyword “API” and go to the website. You will be able to copy-and-paste the key into your signage system.
Widget applications are similar to regular applications in the way that you download the software onto your system, think of a smartphone app. However, for a regular app you must tap the icon to display the content, but a widget app allows content to be displayed alongside other content.
Widgets are the preferred method of displaying the weather to viewers, as it has the user-friendly convenience of an app, but including the dual-running feature. Here, I’ll list a few of the most popular weather displaying widgets.
- Sign Presenter. Sign Presenter has built-in weather information you can feed right into your digital signage TV and it's the best digital signage solution out there for most businesses, in my opinion.
- Screenfeed. Screenfeed’s weather widget has several different types of weather alerts, formats, and styles available for you to choose from, and the data is updated every 15 minutes automatically.
- Screenly. This is a great free option that has many helpful features, like auto-location. It automatically displays the weather in your area based on the location sensed by your signage system.
- MeteoTV. This is a free widget that offers a few different types of forecasts. This widget can show weather from around the globe, which is a unique feature.
This is a vastly different approach to displaying the weather on your digital signage system. Rather than manually entering feed or downloading separate software, the NowCaster plugs directly into the HDMI port on your system. This touchscreen viewing allows you to pan, zoom in, and otherwise view the radar.
Unfortunately, unlike a widget, you can’t have the NowCaster content showing alongside other content; it is one or the other. This is a disadvantage since most companies have many other types of content they want to display and switching back and forth would be inconvenient.
If you had a dedicated signage system for weather using the NowCaster, and a separate system for your other content, that would be a unique setup. This would be ideal for a school, office building, or other setting where having the weather readily available is helpful.
There are a few different ways to display current, stylish weather forecasts on your digital signage, but only you can choose the option that works best for you. I recommend starting by seeing which methods are compatible with your signage system.
There are simple copy-and-paste methods, or more involved, but with better customization, options. No matter your style, there are great ways to better your business with digital signage.