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We live in a world of rapidly advancing technology where almost everything is becoming digital. One hundred years ago, no one could have imagined touch screen cell phones, and twenty years ago, no one could have imagined digital displays. Yet, they are now one of the best ways to present information to customers.

Soon, every major department store and corner gas station will have some form of digital signage. Today, the goal is to explore the best practices to help you get the most out of your digital signage.

Digital signage best practices

The Best Practices for Digital Signage

Digital signage is meant to catch the attention of customers and passersby alike. The purpose is to draw them in, advertise a product, and simply deliver information. While this is an undoubtedly helpful thing, it is only effective when properly utilized.

There are some practices that will help your digital signage succeed, which include things like choosing the proper location, catering to a specific audience, and ensuring that the information on the screen is easily seen and understood.

Whether you are someone new to digital signage or an experienced hand, here are 12 of the best practices for your digital signage needs.

Choose Your Location Wisely

When it comes to digital signage, location is key. Think about all the different places you could place your digital signs, such as walls, stands, and tables. Then, consider which of those places are high-traffic areas. When considering your options, also keep the size of your digital signage in mind, thinking about whether it suits the location.

Common locations for digital signage include:

  • Lines
  • Lobbies
  • Ticket Booths
  • Subway Platforms
  • Product Displays
Digital signage best practices
Image via ECampusNews

This is important because you want as many viewers as possible to see whatever you are displaying with your digital signage. Since digital displays are often viewed at a glance, the location of your screens is of paramount importance. If your screens are too high or displayed in the wrong area, your audience may overlook them. 

For example, if you plan to use your display to advertise a specific in-store promotion, you want to make sure your screens are at eye level somewhere close to the product you are promoting.

Make Sure Your Digital Signs Are Accessible

Digital signage is included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), so there are some guidelines that you have to follow to make sure your digital signs meet the ADA requirements.

Any interactive signage must be accessible to people with disabilities, including any signage with interactive elements like keypads, buttons, or touchscreens. A complete list of ADA regulations can be found online, but they include:

  • Any interactive signage must be placed no more than 48 inches from the floor.
  • The reach for any interactive signage must be no more than 10 inches.
  • Any screen enclosure or wall-mounted digital signs must not extend more than 4 inches from a wall.
  • Any wall-mounted display or enclosure must be installed between 27 and 80 inches off the floor.
  • Numeric keypads must have all the numbers in sequence and have a raised bump on the number 5 key.

This is important because making sure your digital signage is accessible to people with disabilities is a simple way to guarantee that your message reaches as many people as possible. There are also serious consequences for not complying with ADA guidelines, including lawsuits and hefty fines.

Digital Signs Should Always Be Legible 

When designing your digital signs, keep in mind that they should be easy to read even from far away. Using a large font and simple wording helps accomplish that. Try setting up a display and reading it from a distance. Also, make sure your font color stands out from the background by using high contrast colors, such as:

  • Black and White
  • Blue and Yellow
  • Red and Green
  • Orange and Blue
  • Yellow and Purple

This is important for keeping your content legible, which ensures that your audience will be able to see and comprehend the message at a glance. If your viewers cannot read or understand the content on display, then your message will be lost.

Following basic legibility guidelines can help, such as using large text, bold Sans Serif fonts, and high contrast colors. Taking those steps guarantees that your message will be easily understood and absorbed by your target audience. Also keep in mind that some people might be colorblind, making reading certain colors difficult.

Digital signage best practices
Image via QSR Magazine

Consider Your Content

Any sign, digital or otherwise, is only as good as its content. The content of digital signage is limited only by your imagination. When brainstorming content for your digital sign, always be sure to consider design, color, font, and legibility. Some great content to display on your digital signage includes:

  • Images
  • Current Events
  • Your Website
  • Custom Videos
  • Specials or Promotions

It is important because having the most high-end and advanced digital signage system is pointless if you do not plan and perfect a content strategy. When designing content, always imagine your target audience and create content to appeal to them. Creating a content strategy should be the first step in designing your digital signage system.

When deciding upon content for your digital signage, make sure to consider when it will be playing. Some content might work better at certain times rather than others, such as during certain seasons or when school is starting. Tailor everything to fit your needs at the moment.

Have Your Viewing Pattern in Mind

The content you use for your signage will depend on the viewing pattern where it is displayed. There are three basic viewing patterns associated with digital signage:

  • Point of Sale: Content displayed at a point of sale can be longer since people will typically be standing in a line. It should also be used to help viewers make a buying decision. Great content ideas for a display at a point of sale are promotions, daily specials, and sales.
  • Point of Transit: Digital displays at a point of transit should generally be five words or less and easily understandable at a glance. People at points of transit tend to be in a hurry and will not respond well to interactive content. Some display examples are calls to action, event announcements, and daily reminders.
  • Point of Wait: Signage used at a point of wait can be longer and more interactive. People in waiting rooms or lobbies are often there for long periods and are more likely to be drawn in by engaging content. Points of wait are a great place for interactive content such as directories, videos, calendars, and news.

This is important because designing your digital content with the viewing pattern in mind is crucial to getting your message out successfully. For instance, viewers at a point of wait would be off-put by content revolving too quickly, while viewers at a point of transit would be unlikely to be engaged by interactive content.

Keep Your Content Fresh 

When people see the same content repeatedly, they have a tendency to go blind to it. Keep people engaged and interested in your digital signage by changing your content regularly. Completely refresh your design so it feels like a brand-new display to anyone who sees it. Some simple ways to keep your content fresh are:

  • Change your content at least 3 times a day
  • Use revolving or timed content
  • Update pictures and other visual content as frequently as possible, even if your text remains the same
  • Consider using auto-updating content
  • Mix up the order in which your content plays

This is important because changing your content regularly is what keeps it interesting and keeps viewers engaged. If you continually display the same general content on your screens, your audience will lose interest and stop watching. Displaying fresh content will appeal to a larger group of customers and hold their attention.

Limit Your Text

Digital displays are typically viewed for an average of 8 to 12 seconds. The number one rule where text is concerned is that less is more. Therefore, any text you display on your screens should be kept limited. 

Choosing your font size is all about visibility. While legibility is making sure your audience can read what you display, visibility is about making sure they can see it. General directions when displaying text are:

  • Use large fonts
  • Follow the 3×5 rule, limiting your text to either 3 lines of 5 words or 5 lines with 3 words
  • Limit your use of italicized text since it is harder to read from a distance
  • Bold your text whenever possible
  • Use Sans Serif fonts

This is important because most people do not like to read large blocks of text, so if you are displaying paragraphs of information, it will likely feel like a nuisance to read. Keep the text short and to the point. Viewers will respond better to a simple and concise message that makes your point clear.

Choose the Correct Font

Most digital signage companies recommend using Sans Serif fonts for displays. Sans Serif fonts do not have the extending features called “serifs” at the end of strokes and are generally used to convey the idea that something is simple, minimal, and modern. Using the fonts in bold makes for easy reading that is likely to be easily absorbed by viewers.

Common Sans Serif fonts include:

  • Arial
  • Agency FB
  • Bahnschrift
  • Lucida Sans
  • Futura

This is important because choosing the right font for your display is imperative to ensure that viewers can read and understand your message. Using the wrong font can make your text seem like a jumble of letters. Font choice is also an important part of designing your signs.

Keep in mind that using more than two different font styles in the same message may make it seem like there are more words on the screen than there actually are.

Timing Matters 

Always be aware of the environment that your digital signage will be displayed and how it will affect your timing settings. Schedule your displays to change at different time intervals depending on where they are located.

If your displays are in a fast-paced area where people do not spend much time, they should change more frequently. If your signage is displayed in a waiting area or lobby, however, you should schedule it to change more slowly since people have more time to absorb the information. Some basic recommendations for timing your displays are:

  • Each piece of content in your playlist should stay on the screen for eight seconds or less to grab your viewer’s attention without boring them.
  • In each eight-second slide, you should have no more than six words of text.
  • If your playlist includes videos or long descriptions, keep them on screen longer.
  • If you are displaying content in a high-traffic area, you should shorten the amount of time your content stays on the screen to five seconds or less.
  • Test your timing by attempting to read your message three times before the slide changes and find a way to shorten the message or make it easier to digest if you cannot.

It is important because the timing of your content can directly affect how well your message is received. Having your displayed content revolve too quickly can make it seem impossible to absorb while having your playlist run too slowly or keeping images on the screen for too long will cause your viewers to lose interest.

Have a Great Call to Action

If you are hoping to use your displays to encourage viewers to do something specific, be sure your call-to-action (CTA) message is perfectly refined. Use a short and simple call-to-action phrase that makes your intention clear. Always be precise when giving details like locations, dates, and times.

Examples of short but effective calls to action include:

  • Join Our Community
  • Reach New People
  • Learn More
  • Be Awesome
  • Sign Up

Calls to action can even be single words that encourage a specific action, such as:

  • Watch
  • Start
  • Shop
  • Discover
  • Explore

It is important because your call to action is your absolute best opportunity to inspire your audience to do something. A good CTA can be the most important part of your display, and a great one can increase your sales and encourage viewers to become customers. CTAs are what turn a piece of content into a valuable marketing tool.

Visuals are Essential

Visuals are arguably the most important part of your signage. You should always put great thought into what visuals to use in your signs, and be sure that they add to your display without being a distraction. Never muddle your display with too many visuals, as this will overwhelm your viewers, and your message will be lost in the mess.

A few helpful rules for creating effective visuals are: 

  • Vary the size, fonts, colors, and shapes in your designs
  • Add a border to keep the focus on the center of your sign
  • Use standard aspect ratios like 16:9 or 4:3
  • Adjust your visuals to match the resolution of your sign
  • Preview your displays from your viewers perspective

This is important because visuals can make your digital signage different and more interesting than others. A great graphic or photo will grab your viewer's attention immediately and make your message seem more appealing. Viewers are also more likely to remember messages that are accompanied by a great visual.

Always Be Learning

Try new things with your displays. Experiment with designs and colors to learn what works and what does not. If something works, then make it work better, and if it does not work, then try something different. Digital signage systems are capable of so much that there is something new to learn about them every day.

A few things that you could try with your signage system are:

  • Using a network of screens. If you are using your system in a large business, try putting a network of screens in different important locations. You could even use a network of interactive digital displays around a store so that your customers can help themselves if there is not an employee available.
  • Using your display as a trivia game. Trivia is an easy and fantastic way of getting your audience to interact with your displays.
  • Streaming live events on your screens. You can stream anything, from the local news to YouTube videos, and it is a great way to engage your viewers.

It is important because practice makes perfect. The common saying applies to your digital signage system as much as it does to anything else. When you are constantly learning, you are also consistently improving, and that is how you create memorable content.

Conclusion

Digital signage systems are amazing modern tools that can be used for just about anything you can imagine. With so many benefits and practically no drawbacks, all you need to do is learn how to best utilize the technology. Once you have it down, you will open up a whole new world to interact with and get information out to your customers.