During the 1600s, artists would produce clay sculptures on large canvas paintings as signage to advertise a business. Today, the best artists are creating animations on digital media.
What has changed?
The medium has changed. The art remains.
Digital signage is an evolving medium with an interesting mix of the old and new age. Although there is nothing new about the concept of a sign, the digital communication platform is absolutely new. Hence the criteria for creating content for digital signage is at a whole new level. In this article we will discuss the importance of creating effective content, some great LED signs content tips and some common digital signage content mistakes.
Importance of Creating Effective Content
Imagine your content as being the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. Without clever content, you will struggle to attract attention and convert leads into customers. Great content is the key to successful digital marketing efforts; and there are four main reasons why:
- Your audience is more informed, thereby makes smarter purchasing decisions. Before they make a choice, they should be well aware of the options they have. This is only possible if you have proper content to educate the audience on your products/services.
- With digital signage content, you can optimize your products to appear in relevant search results, thereby attracting new leads to your website. In order to fuel content with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), strong content is essential.
- Share content on social media platforms to connect with your target audience. This is a powerful way of establishing genuine relationships with your customers because there is a direct pathway for one-on-one conversations, feedback and chances for new leads to your website. All this is only possible with strong content creation.
- Great content is also an opportunity to create backlinks from external websites to yours, thereby bringing more traffic to your site. This strategy will only work when your content is of high quality, containing ideas, opinions and other important information.
Tips for creating effective content
1. Be mindful of technical details
Before you start creating content, keep in mind certain basic information such as the resolution, pixel pitch, minimum viewing distance, environment and so on. Basically, you need to know about everything that can affect how your content for digital signage will visually impact its viewers.
Every digital display has different characteristics, so what works for one screen won’t necessarily work for another. It is not advisable to go for automatic scaling of images when deciding pixel and resolution of your content. For maximum quality and viewing experience, it is best to produce content that has the exact pixel resolution of the LED display.
2. Stick to design principles
For legibility, contrast is the primary factor. In deciding color contrasts, avoid overwhelming your audience with bright contrasting colors. A design that pops is one that uses simple color contrasts. The colors you choose for foreground and background should have a lot of contrast, especially when there is a lot of text. If viewers cannot easily separate the elements of your design, the essence of the message can get lost.
In the digital world, there are three basic colors that produce all the other colors on the palette: red, green and blue (also known as RGB). White is a mix of all three, whereas black is the absence of RGB. The human eye is most sensitive to green, red second and blue the least. When deciding color contrasts, keep in mind the general rule of thumb: light on dark or dark on light.
Avoid using red or white for a full screen background as this can reduce the lifespan of your LED sign, consume more electricity and is too distracting for your driving audience. Dark and soft color schemes are advised for backgrounds. For example, black on yellow, yellow on black, white on blue, yellow on blue, white on green, and so on.
Digital media provides endless possibilities for marketing – the use of videos, images, animation, text, 3D graphics and much more! Although it may be tempting to animate every corner of the display, DON’T! Graphic designers should keep in mind that too much animation will distract your audience from the key message. Instead of reading the important messages, they may only focus their attention on the animation or video being played. Hence it is recommended to use motion tools sparingly without disrupting readability.
To create visual interest without being distracting, here are some great tips on how to use motion and animation:
- A slow pan over a static image
- A steady shot of something slightly moving
- Time laps of a city scape
- Fade in and fade out transitions for switching between images
With focus techniques such as headlines, bright colors, and graphics, guide the human eye to critical information first and then create a visual hierarchy in your design. By playing with sizes, angles and open spaces in the arrangement, you can emphasize on priority of different elements.
How far should you pace the information conveyed in your content? This can be determined by answering the following: is your digital sign located at a Point of Transit, Point of Sale, or Point of Wait?
- Point of Transit means where people are always on the go. Wayfinding kiosks and large highway digital billboards are good examples of these. In this case, you have very little time to capture viewer attention; which means you have to be as concise and bold as possible. Why? Because dwell time is just about 2 seconds, which is not much to make an impression.
- Point of Sale is where your audience is not in much of a hurry but are still there for a purpose. Your content should focus on relevant opportunities that are immediately available. For example, a giveaway, or a sale on a neighboring aisle.
- Point of Wait – here you must consider how long your audience will spend within visual range of your signs. You can then decide how often to switch between multiple segments of your content. Don’t bore your audience with the same information being on-screen the entire time.
The average timing for an advertisement on digital signage is 6 – 10 seconds. When creating content, your slides should be timed to an average of 3 seconds. Anything less is insufficient to capture a message and anything more is likely to bore your audience.
4. Text and Font Choice
Words on the screen are there with a purpose – communicating a clear and concise message. A general rule of thumb applies here: Less is more! Don’t clutter your final output with too much text. Present only the most important information on screen. Try to limit your message to not more than three lines of text with five words in each line or five lines of text with three words in each line. Your font sizes should be large enough to read at a distance. Think about where your audience will stand and how they will interact with the display screen. For a distance of about 20-25 feet, a one-inch height font size is easier to read.
Make sure your font type is simple and legible. Never use more than two font types in one design, and don’t overwhelm the message with italic fonts. Serif fonts are one of the most commonly used and most legible font styles for lengthy text because they are known to help the human eye keep a track of one word to the next. Arial is a font that doesn’t have serifs and is known as sans serif, and is easier to read for short messages.
5. The Message
If you have been successful in grabbing viewer attention, don’t waste that opportunity.
Display content that is relevant to your audience and in line with your overall marketing campaign. You don’t want to bore them and waste the opportunity by displaying information that is not relevant to your product or service. Use strong words, especially verbs that encourage potential customers to take action. Inform them where they should go if they need a particular product – maybe a shop address or a website. If you are advertising a limited-time promotion for example, give dates to create a sense of urgency.
When previewing your final outlook, take note of where your eye goes first and make adjustments to your design to ensure that most important elements are more prominent. Test readability and visibility from an observer point of view and check if your media quality is good, and look into other technicalities such as brightness, colors, visibility, etc. A good tip is to stand five feet away from your screen and stimulate the audience’s perspective of viewing your advertisement at a distance. Once your campaign is implemented, go and see the results on location. This is the best way to check the quality of your digital sign and address any issues that you may notice.
Common mistakes with digital signage content
- Poor color contrasts such as yellow text on white background and vice versa.
- Poor image resolutions floating on white natural backgrounds.
- Elements of text, images, animations floating without any obvious sense of composition.
- Same content being displayed for weeks and months on the screen.
- Long sentences, lengthy text.
- Slides passing by too fast.
- Slides being held on for too long.
- Overlapping text, images and videos.
Effective content determines the effectiveness of your digital signage content. While creating content can be challenging to a non-designer, sometimes budgetary restrictions give rise to situations where you have to create your own. So don’t be afraid, as long as you follow the above tips it is absolutely possible to give your audience some visually appealing and engaging content.