Incorporate video content into your digital design to attract all audiences
This is the seventh installment of our monthly digital signage content design blog, written by our Content Creation Team, geared to help users create visually compelling content.
Moving pictures have captivated audiences for over a century. Animation and video bring a special level of entertainment that appeases all audience personas. Why? Watching a video requires minimal effort, and the information is easily absorbed and retained.
Video communications are a whopping 600% more effective than print and direct mail. Viewers are accustomed to watching video through multiple mediums a day: TV, computer, smart phone, mobile devices, etc. In fact, 60% of media viewers will watch a video before reading any text.
According to ReelSEO‘s article, “2013 Video Marketing Survey & Business Video Trends Report,” 93% of marketers are using video in their campaigns, while 82% of them claim video has a positive impact on their business. Luckily, advancements in technology have made it easy to bring this magical tool to your digital screens.
The luxury of video on digital signage is similar to hosting your own television channel, the content options are endless. If you’re playing video to attract attention to your screens, make sure your content is relevant and appropriate. A veterinarian’s’ office isn’t likely to play celebrity gossip clips in the waiting room, instead they might opt for a video about proper ways to groom your pet.
The types of video used on digital signage should depend on sign location, audience, and communication purposes. The lobby of a large business might opt to play a ‘welcome video,’ while dentist offices or hair salons may play news clips. Internal, employee facing signage minimize training time by playing safety videos or training presentations. While trendy retail stores might play customer created content or video promoting their upcoming specials.
Shorter videos have a positive impact on viewers. Videos under 1 minute tend to have an 80% viewer retention up to the 30-second mark , while videos running at 2-3 minutes drop to a 60% retention rate. 4 So, stick to shorter videos to engage and create a positive impact on your viewers.
If you are creating the video inhouse, be sure to display the most important information first. Especially in high traffic areas where viewers might only be able to catch the first clip of the video. Think of the beginning moments of the video as the prime time to communicate your message.
Video is one of the most effective ways to communicate complex information in a short time frame to all audiences. The motion graphics attract viewer attention, while the video content creates extended engagement. Incorporate video into your next campaign by downloading our free content package .
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?
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.
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:
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.3
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.
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.
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.
This is the second installment of a bi-monthly blog piece, written by our Content Creation Team, geared to help users create visually compelling content.
Believe me, creating well designed content takes practice. Most content creators learn the basics of how to use their digital media software, and stop their education there. I’m here to tell you that there is always room for improvement.
In the first blog of this series, Why Design Matters, I explained how design has a huge impact on attracting and retaining audiences. In this blog, let’s focus on what not to do when creating a design. Don’t worry, these mistakes are easy to remedy! Make these simple changes and not only will you see an increase in audience engagement but also notice your signage has become the go-to for organization communications. Here are the five most common mistakes customers seem to make when creating content for their digital signage :
1. Multiple Thoughts Per Slide
Too many ideas, so little time! Where is the audience supposed to focus? Remember, slides play on a time limit, so the audience only has time to digest one idea. With too many messages being displayed at once, the audience is sure to get confused and annoyed. Instead of cramming multiple event details onto one slide, limit messages to one idea: “Picture Day: Friday 13, 2015. Auditorium from 10AM-3PM”
2. Text Overload
A paragraph in size 10 font will do nothing for your communication. Your viewers have been reading emails all day, the last thing they want to read is an essay on the company picnic. Too much text is a sure-fire way to get people to ignore your message. Instead of listing tons of safety tips, keep messages narrowed down to one sentence: “Be sure to wear protective eyewear before using any machinery.” You can break up longer thoughts into multiple slides, just be aware that your viewers may not have a chance to see every slide in your series.
If the visual order of the content doesn’t make any sense, your message will be lost. Make sure that the most important part of your message is the first thing your viewers see. The last thing you want is for your message to get lost in the shuffle because you didn’t have room for it next to the funny cat meme.* Make sure your message gets consumed by making it the largest element on the slide, altering it’s color to be different than other text, or even repeating it a few times.
Static, black text on a white background, no pictures, bland language… digital signage shouldn’t look like a boring legal document . So often do we see amazing digital signage deployments in high traffic areas playing dull slides. Clearly, no one pays any attention to this content. Black and white televisions are a thing of the past for a reason, give your material life and color! Use some stock photography to add a visual to your message, or upload photos from your social media sites.
5. Lack of Supporting Elements
Slides with just words or slides with just pictures will do nothing for communication. The best slides incorporate both text and images. Marrying the two will hit the viewers with an emotion and a call to action. For instance: if the message is about eating right, provide a picture of some freshly washed veggies. You’ll capture their attention with the photo, then they’ll be more likely to read the message.
And while it is always easier to assign these responsibilities to someone with a graphic design background, it isn’t always necessary. Instead of getting overwhelmed and resigning from the design position, you can steer clear of the faux pas listed above. Avoiding those will take your signage to a whole new level of design and improve the effectiveness of your signage communication, readying you for our next blog piece: implementing design best practices.
"I joined the Digital Screenmedia Association because everything is changing so rapidly with this medium that you need to have as much access to information as you can get. I have met many vendors and users, and enjoy the opportunity to share our 'war stories' and use our experiences to help each other with ideas that support successful networks."
Director, Gobal Marketing & Communications
Platt Retail Institute