We know from our previous posts that design is important. From how to avoid mistakes, to how to implement best practices, we are trekking steadily toward design expertise. Now it's time for our sixth design blog: creating and using digital content backgrounds.
The background is the environment of your message. Just like the backdrop in a play, it is often the first thing viewers see and the last thing they remember. No one finds a blank page engaging or memorable! Audiences need something flavorful to digest. With all of the abilities that digital signage offers, why wouldn't you incorporate a background into your design? Digital content backgrounds can either be extremely effective for customer engagement, or they can deter audience eyes. You'll learn how to avoid the latter in this blog.
A colorfill is the most basic option for backgrounds, because white backgrounds are often perceived as the opposite of creative. With digital signage, there is an even bigger reason to avoid white backgrounds — LED technology repels eyes when it emits white. We don't want that!
The trick to correctly implementing colorfill into your design depends on contrast. Light backgrounds work well with dark text, while dark backgrounds need light text. Black backgrounds are very effective at increasing legibility when displaying white text.
Color can affect message perception depending on cultural beliefs or audience personas. For more information about which colors work best with certain viewers, check out one of our previous design blogs: "Digital signage content design isn't always black and white."
For a simple company announcement use a dark gray gradient, with the company logo in the corner, and white text.
There is a difference between featuring an image as the main component of your message and stretching a picture as your background. Remember, the purpose of a background is to create a visually appealing environment where your message can thrive. Don't use an intricate image (such as a picture of the crowd at a sporting event), as it will distract from your message.
To increase legibility, don't overlay text on a graphic; place a text box behind the text first. If absolutely necessary, only use text on the area of the image that has the least amount of detail (e.g., a blue sky). The key to choosing a picture for a background is to keep it theme appropriate, yet simple. Audience eyes will still see the background, but their attention will remain on the text — the perfect balance.
A message about the upcoming company picnic (in a text box) would lay nicely on top of an image of grass with a Frisbee in the corner.
Texture can be a great alternative to color, as long as it doesn't overpower the composition of the screen. Adding texture, or "noise," to your template can give a tasteful level of dimension. In other cases, it's too much (e.g., some of the filters your friends use on Instagram). Just like our rule with images: Keep texture subtle, or else it will be distracting!
Texture can also be used to highlight specific elements of your message. For instance, your logo or call-to-action can be "in focus" while a texture can overlay the rest of your design. Texture can also be added behind certain areas of the design to act as text box.
For a snowy weather warning, use a cracked ice texture to make the screen look like it's been sitting outside for a few hours.
In digital design, background options are limitless. Depending on your message, they can be as wild or as conservative as you'd like. Background creation can actually be fun if you learn to enjoy the process! Remember to nix what doesn't work and use what does. Be sure to avoid white backgrounds, unless you want to repel your audience's eyes. Don't opt for a picture that will distract eyes away from your message. And never allow a texture overlay to make your text unreadable. Legibility is king; if no one can read your message, what's the point in communicating?