- Define the purpose for your digital signage:
- Who will be viewing your digital signage content?
One of the first steps is to define who will be viewing the content on your digital
signage. Some demographic analysis is helpful here. It can be very detailed by
targeting age, gender, and why these profiles would have an interest in reading
It can be very specific or more general, such as whether they are: visitors, clients, residents,
employees, etc. However you break them out, will then provide you with guidance
on what you want to say to them.
- What will be relevant content to the viewer?
Each type of viewer is likely to have a different preference for meaningful
content. One way to look at content is how you could best create an experience
for that viewer. Think of content through the eyes of your viewer. Perhaps you want
your content to be:
- Educational and informative – perhaps about products and services you
- Entertaining – bring in a splash of information such as weather conditions,
trivia, or headline sports.
- Aesthetically Pleasing –give the viewer something pleasing to look at. Use
some color psychology to reinforce your message. Don’t forget to use
animations to grab attention.
- Escapism – Bring your viewer to a temporary “happy place”. It might be
a place of beauty from the outdoors or a work of art; a short walking tour
in a quaint village.
When you can draw the viewer into as many of these realms as possible, you are
likely to create a memorable experience for that person.
- How will you measure if digital signage is accomplishing your goals?
This is relevant to the goals that you set to achieve through your digital signage
Remember that goals should be SMART:
- “Content is Key”
- Who will be responsible for ensuring the content stays current?
Clear assignment of content management is key to a successful digital signage system
at your location. That role can be from a designated person who is a content writer
that gathers important topics from various department heads to an administrative person that simply inputs data that they receive from others. The key is to have
specific expectations and roles clearly defined for all stakeholders involved. Assigned
responsibility must be followed-up with accountability for fulfillment of the tasks.
- Will you want to schedule new content throughout the day, week, or year?
Making content relevant often includes scheduling time-sensitive content. Content
that is relevant to the time of day, day of the week, time of the month or year;
makes your content relevant to their viewing experience. This could include:
- Day-Parting – such as Good Morning, Good Afternoon, etc.
- A holiday greeting that starts one week before the holiday and ends the
night of the holiday.
- Seasonal content showing fall colors during Autumn or budding flowers in
the Spring; all resonates with the viewers.
- Do you have a communication calendar with planned content for the next 90 days?
Planned content is a great way to make sure you deliver the “Right Message at the
Right Time to the Right People”. You will have unplanned content that needs to be
updated on the fly, but it will not interfere with other important content. Plan
and gather input from others.
This is a key consideration if you want to make a big impact on your viewers. If you
have internal graphic design resources, you are fortunate and they will create
some great-looking content for you. They need to be aware that designing for a
digital signage screen vs. print are two different design approaches. Content
should be designed with a “billboard” mentality.
If you don’t have in-house design services, you may want to consider outsourcing
this task to a design agency that understands design concepts for digital signage.
If you want to tackle this yourself, there will probably be pre-designed templates
that you can use. Just be aware that a series of templates can often look like
“sleepy elevator music” to the eyes. It’s not likely you’ll get the impact you are
- Have you identified your hardware needs?
- How many screens will you need to display the content to your intended audience?
This is a tough question to answer without looking at the physical floor plan or foot
traffic paths. Here are some common locations that might meet your needs:
- Receptionist area
- Waiting areas or lounges
- Waiting lines: such as retail, grocery, banking, etc.
- Dining areas
- Employee break-rooms
- Resident’s rooms
- Will all screens be playing the same content or will you need some screens to play
This is an easier question to answer once you have identified who your audiences
are. The goal is to customize your content to make it relevant to the viewer. For
example; if you are in a Senior Living Community, you might want to have 3 different
playlists. One playlist targets residents, one targets visitors, and the other targets
employees. It is fine to have overlapping or shared content between the 3 playlists while having some unique content for each of your targeted viewers.
- Do you have hardware configuration?
- Will it be on a network or a stand-alone environment?
This will depend on the scope of your digital signage project. Stand-alone
options certainly can work, but you will want to ensure that you can connect
to your hardware via an Internet connection. Gone are the days of using
memory sticks and having to physically update content by inserting another
Most digital signage networks are connected to a server that is running a
Content Management Software (CMS). It is very convenient and efficient to
log into the server and make your changes to the content. The server will
update the player/displays for you. This is particularly important if you have
- Will your content reside on an in-house server or a cloud-based server?
If your digital signage network will be large enough to require a Content
Manager Software that resides on a server, either option has its pros or cons.
If your company has a server(s) with room on one of its servers to support a
CMS application, then an in-house solution may be your best bet. Your IT
department will be able to handle much of the hardware installation and
connectivity of your signage to the server. Backing up your content will be
part of their responsibility as well.
If you choose to have your content manager software run in a cloud
environment, then your IT support can rely on the vendor for backups, OS
upgrades, and other maintenance items.
- Will your IT department need to be involved to ensure your digital signage
meets your company’s security policies?
Depending on your company’s security environment, you will want to ensure
that this area is not overlooked in your digital signage deployment. Proper
security protocols need to be in place. This includes secure logins, strong
passwords accommodating firewall rules, and preferably a cable Internet
connection over a wireless connection.
- Will you need independent players or will you be using displays with an
Onboard Chip System?
There are a variety of player options, along with their associated price range.
A big factor is the graphic card requirements needed to play your animations
and transitions smoothly. Another factor that impacts the quality of playback
(is the display’s resolution. While the standard has been HD (1920x1080), 4k
3960x2160) will soon become the native resolution of most new displays.
Keep in mind that more animations and hire resolution requirements will
need to be matched with the player’s capabilities.
- Once the scope of the digital signage network has been designed and hardware has been
determined, the next step is a timeline:
- Hardware installation and testing?
It may take 6-10 weeks for hardware to arrive and be installed. If you have in-house
resources, you may have the hardware installed faster, however, if you need to hire
an outside resource to install and test the hardware, it will be based on availability.
- Content Development and Approval?
Once the hardware has been ordered, your content developer and graphic
designer can start composing your messages. Here are a couple of things to
keep in mind:
- Stay true to your branding. You want to ensure your corporate ID standards
are being followed. Your digital signage content should have a similar look
and feel to your website and collateral materials.
- Keep your content short and to the point. Paragraphs of text will not be read.
- Have a second set of eyes to proof the content and the timing of each screen.
- Average screen time should be 8-12 seconds
- Obtain a sign-off from all major stakeholders before you Go Live.
- Deployment and Go-Live?
Test – Test –Test. Setup a staging environment and let the content run for a couple
of days. Make edits to your content to ensure updates are happening.
- Your Digital Signage is up and running – now what?
Finally, after all of your planning, creating, designing, and deployment, you can sit
back and relax, right? Not much!
Observe if people are reading the content. Ask employees if they saw an important
announcement that affected them. Listen for comments, good or bad, then adjust
content as necessary.
You will find that your learning curve will peak after the first 6 months. Your limits to
your digital signage system are only limited by your creativity.
- Finding the right company(ies) to partner with for this project.
There are many types of companies that have a specific role in digital signage.
We’ve spent 20+ years developing the type of company we feel best serves our
clients’ needs, and we will discuss who we are in just a minute.
There are hardware manufacturers of displays, servers, players, and many types of
- Inherent to the hardware is the Operating Software, such as Windows,
Linux, Chrome, and Android; just to name a few.
- Don’t forget hardware needs to be installed. Servers need to be mounted,
displays hung, cables and Internet connections run. They all need to talk
- Ongoing Support is needed when upgrades or add-ons are needed.
There are also digital signage software companies that give you the ability to
create and design layouts for your content. Schedules when you want your content
to play and assigned to the correct player.
There are other third-party design and animation softwares that allow you to create
your layouts and then import them into your digital signage software.
Of course, there are other sources of content: such as live weather, news, or trivia
feeds that can be integrated into your playlist as well.
Let’s not forget we need people to run and support all the hardware and software
we just mentioned. This could include:
- Graphic Designers and Animators
- Content Writers
- Marketing and Brand Strategists
- IT Support
You might say “Whew! That’s a lot of hats and expertise that is needed”. Typically
one or two persons can’t do it all. So you must choose, who to partner with and
what areas you will need help. Each type of stakeholder brings their own set of
expertise, but just like you, they cannot do it all without the participation of others.
Studio 78 has been delivering digital signage solutions since 2001. We function
much like a general contractor when hired to help build someone a home. Some
of our clients have a strong IT department that can have an important role in the
hardware and the network side of things. Other clients are more geared to the
marketing side of managing the content and getting the right message out to the
viewers. And there are certainly a lot of clients that fall somewhere in-between
these two spectrums. Studio 78 can step in and fill in where you need us.
We also offer turn-key solutions. We can support your digital signage projects from
concept to completion. Our knowledge and experience provide us with the
opportunity to take what can be a more complex project and deliver solutions so
that non-technical people can manage their digital signage network on a
Our approach is to deliver a system that is easy to learn and easy to use. We are also
there when you have questions or need support after digital signage has gone live.
Studio 78 offers:
- Scalable digital signage platforms: you can start small and grow as needed.
- Digital signage server, player, network and configuration options.
- Ongoing hardware support
- Cloud-based hosting and backup
- Content management solutions
- Graphic design and animation services
- Ongoing content management and support
- Training: initial and ongoing
We’re here to help you make digital signage your most effective communication
and marketing tool.
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