Kelly Eisel
Marketing Copywriter
Industry Weapon

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

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?

Posted by: Admin AT 10:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Text Increases Engagement

This is the fifth installment of our bi-monthly digital signage content design blog, written by our Content Creation Team, geared to help users create visually compelling content.

By now you’re on your way to becoming design professionals (if you’ve read all our blogs). We understand why design is vital to your digital signage campaign, and even better, we know how to avoid common design mistakes. We’ve discussed how to put in place best practices that drive audience engagement, and which color choices are best for your digital signage messages. This brings us to our fifth design blog: typography for digital signage content design.

A huge part of digital signage content design is function, and the function of digital signage is to communicate a message to your audience. So, the text of your message is extremely important. Typography can make or break your design. If no one can read your message, what’s the point of displaying it in the first place? The good news is, simple practices will keep the text of your campaigns readable and effective for as long as you use them.

Be Choosy with Your Typeface

Unless you’re using a handheld smart device, your audiences are going to be viewing your signage from a distance. (Usually 5-10 feet away.) Because of this, you’ll want to consider the type of font used for your messages. Text should stand out, not strain the eyes of the viewers. An easy to read san-serif typeface will translate well in any setting. The most commonly used sans-serif typefaces for headlines are Arial (28%), Helvetica (20%) and Verdana (8%). 1

Try to limit texts to 2 or 3 different type faces and styles, per slide. This means that the body should all be one font and size, but the title can be something more experimental- as long as it is readable! Don’t be afraid to make these fonts different from each other. Using 2 similar fonts can look like you made a mistake and chose the wrong font.

Size Matters!

Just like typography, the size of the type plays a huge role in your messages’ readability. The further your screen will be from the audience, the larger you need to size your text. Lobby signs are usually positioned 10-15 feet away from viewers, but digital signs in data and call centers are usually 30-50 feet away. The chart below is a good reference point for type size to distance ratio for best readability:

Digital Signage Font Point Size Matters

Kill Unnecessary Characters

Just like an HBO special, too many characters causes confusion. The same rule applies to digital signage messages. The shorter the message, the easier it is for the audience to digest. Messages below 250 characters boost engagement rates to 60%.2 Remember, you only have about 3-6 seconds to capture their attention anyway. A paragraph of text will actually divert their gaze, resulting in a disengaged viewer. Try to break up longer messages onto multiple slides and try to keep the character count limited to 55 to 85 per line.

Eliminate Unnecessary Characters on Digital Signage

Alignment is Key

Spacing is important to any design. Cramming your text to one side, or to the top of the signage will look unprofessional. Text should never touch the outer perimeter of the screen or any images. The trick is to space out your lines of text inside of a mental margin while keeping the lines aligned. Our Content Management System, CommandCenterHD has horizontal and vertical guides to help process simple.

Digital Signage Font Alignment

Spacing between headlines and body copy should be the distance of one line of copy. Add more space between body copy end and the next headline. A good rule of thumb would be to space out the height of two additional lines of copy.

Digital Signage Uneven Text Spacing and Alignment

Note the uneven spacing and alignment of text. It is imperative that the spacing between type is uniform to ensure a solid layout.

Remember, messages are the main function of digital signage. If you keep them short and sweet and easy to read, your signage will always be on the right path. Stay tuned for more tips and information on how to utilize best practices for your digital signage content design, without the $100k graphic design degree.

Posted by: Admin AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Colors increase brand recognition by 80%, try implementing some color in your digital signage content

This is another installment of our bi-monthly digital signage content design blog, written by our Content Creation Team, geared to help users create visually compelling content.

Few people choose to watch a black and white movie if there is a color alternative, just as no one gets excited about plain, black on white text. The same rule applies to digital signage content. Color is key to audience attraction. In fact, it’s one of the main factors that connect viewers to a message.

Did you know that almost 85% of consumers said color was the primary reason that they purchase a particular product? 1 Or that 93% of consumers look at the products overall visual appearance when they’re buying? 2 Color improves comprehension, learning and readability. And it gets better, color increases brand recognition by 80%. 3  Branding connoisseur, William Arruda, wrote in a Forbes article: “Color is powerful because it exudes brand attributes and makes you memorable. Are you using color appropriately to stand out?”  (Follow him on Twitter.)

But before you get a little too color-friendly with your slides, consider your design aesthetics. Certain messages call for certain hues, while others should be based on your brand’s criteria. Let’s discuss a few color theories to consider when choosing which part of the rainbow is appropriate for your digital signage content.

Color Can Improve: Comprehension, Learning and Reading

The Color Wizards at WebFX put together a great infographic on the Psychology of Color.

Color Strikes Our Emotional Chords

This probably isn’t the first place you’ve heard this: color plays a huge part on our psychological state.  If you do a little digging, you’ll find that brand colors of everything in branding are strategically chosen, down to the color of the tables inside your favorite fast food chain.

Colors hit close to the heart.  Whether we’re aware of it or not, they remind us of our first emotional experiences. Some, like neon yellow, attract attention. Others, like beige, blend in with the environment and stay neutral. Different colors mean different things in each culture, so for the sake of this blog, we’ll focus on western culture.

Your brand’s colors are very important and should be used in messages that promote your organization. Other messages, however, may need a few extra details. For example, a warm pink background, or a fresh green font can add a subtle depth to your design. Just remember, neutral colors should dominate while brighter/darker colors should be used more sparingly.

Harmonize Color Palettes

Think of how an interior designer would decorate a living room: The wall color might be neutral and light, the couch might be a vibrant color, and the carpet might have a pattern. Hardly ever are the all three from the same category.

This rule applies to your digital signage content, too. Pick a color for the background, then a contrasting color for the font so that it is readable from a distance. The third color, or picture should complement the first two colors. To avoid clashing, choose colors that stem from the same palette:

Pure Colors: Full fleshed colors that are vibrant, cheerful, and energetic.
Tinted Colors: Colors mixed with white for a lighter tone.
Shades of Colors: Colors mixed with black for a mysterious or dark effect.

Pure colors are often used in fast food menus and cartoons, while tints are used in heavenly paintings or bridal bouquets. A digital signage campaign in a spa might strictly use tints for all messages, while a K-12 deployment might use a lot of pure colors. If your message is about a darker topic, like identity theft, you might opt for a palette of shades.
Switch it Up Your Digital Signage Content

They say, variety is the spice of life, this too applies to digital signage. Staying within the same palette category is fine, but don’t use the same colors for all 17 of the slides in your campaign. The same colors time and time again may be perceived as one long, mundane slide to less observant audience members. Jump from a slide with a blue background to a contrasting orange. That’ll be sure to catch the eye of any day-dreaming lobby dweller.

So now we’ve focused on why we need design, what mistakes to avoid, which general practices to follow, and now how to incorporate colors. You’re well on your way to being a design guru. Stay tuned for more design advice, and as always, click below to download October’s free digital signage content!  Keep those signs fresh and your organizational communications strong!

Posted by: Admin AT 10:52 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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