6 Primary Design Guidelines For Digital Signage

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If you’ve ever had to create an outdoor ad or campaign, you know it’s not easy! You want to convey a specific message which should evoke a specific emotion or thought in the viewer’s mind. When you think about it, some campaigns can inspire people to act simply with one word or image alone.

Sounds like quite a challenge, doesn’t it?

Today, we want to make this challenge at least a bit easier for you to tackle! We’ll introduce several guidelines as well as some useful sources for you to keep in mind when designing and further polish your next campaign with the intention to help you create a digital signage presentation like no other!

 

1. Order in the display!

In most Western languages, people read from left to right. Thus, you should order the text you want to present on the left side of the display, and the imagery on the right. That is, if you decide to separate the two, of course. This was one of the few points Out of Home Creative's Melody Roberts discussed on a recent podcast by billboardinsider.

She also noted that splitting content on the screen might not be the best idea. Putting an image in the center where it cuts off the text could make the content appear scattered and disconnected.

Overall, your message should be concise and direct. For most viewers, the eye goes to the most aggressive part of the message. But be careful to not overuse that method of highlighting. An all-red all-caps text, for example, is of no use anymore. Melody also noted that companies perhaps don’t think much about outdoor advertising when designing their logo. Feeling it’s a must to include, they just use it, regardless of how poor it looks outdoors. If that indeed is the case, it is wiser to omit it and instead focus on delivering clear contact information in place of a logo, which we will discuss in more detail later!

2. Choose the correct color scheme

We’ve talked about colors and contrast in the past and now we’ll take a closer look from a different perspective.

When it comes to the platform you’re using, colors behave differently when used on traditional signage versus digital. On fliers or other components of traditional signage, darker colors struggle. For example, a mix of red and black can fall flat when used on a standard billboard as the illumination comes from the outside. On digital, however, they look stunning together because of the capabilities of digital technology!

Digital signage allows you to use darker colors to their full potential, but be mindful of how certain colors perform together, especially with text!

3. Be mindful of your environment

When you look at your digital billboard or display, what do you see behind it? City buildings? A grey wall? The sky? Depending on the dominant colors of the background, adjust your display to stand out from it. If it blends with the background, it is likely not getting noticed as much as it could by your audience.

However, you could opt to go the exact opposite direction and embrace the background and the environment. This may prove a challenge depending on the environment, but here is one example of such a use, alongside others!

4. Polish your contact information!

The purpose of an ad in most cases is to help people become interested and find your business easier, right? But a lot of content creators don’t think much about the contact information. For them it’s a given and they just put it in a corner of the screen without thinking further about it. While it’s not always feasible to change a phone number to be easily remembered, you shouldn’t just shrug and say “oh well” and simply put it in the corner like you usually would. Instead, don’t even bother with it!

If you target drivers or other audiences who see your content only briefly, ditch the phone number from your content. Few phone numbers can be remembered at a glance, and you can’t expect drivers to write it down. Replace phone numbers with an email that’s easy to remember. If you need to, create a new email address or even invest in a domain that’s very memorable.

5. Be memorable!

This doesn’t apply to the aforementioned contact information alone but also your message! Most of us are bad at memorizing raw cold data. We remember things best if there is a story attached to it. For example, you’ll remember to make a reservation in advance if you have a lovely family dinner storyline in your head. That’s also why any good ad these days has a storyline. Similarly to why they used jingles in the 50s: they’re all very easy to remember!

Make sure each and every part of your message is memorable through a story. Furthermore, don’t be fooled into thinking a story is necessarily long or elaborate. A story may be created either through plain humor, truth or wordplay. The message must have a reletable point to the viewer. It can become that with very few, or even without a single written word!

The example above is one of the many brilliant billboard campaigns highlighted over at Canva.com. Check them out for some inspiration in the storytelling department!

6. Keep in mind the don’ts!

You've read a few guidelines to do to enhance your designs. Now, let's briefly go over a few more points you should not do, unless you want your campaign to fall flat on its face.

  • No lengthy messages! Keep your core message short. The number 7 is a good reference point to prevent you from veering too far into detail. A 7-word sentence is quick and easy to absorb!
  • Don't bore your audience. The easiest way to achieve a mistake like this is to produce a vague and lengthy video. If you use videos in your campaigns, keep them short and to the point. And above all, make them engaging and interesting to watch from start to finish!
  • No PowerPoint! It’s the year 2019, remember? Leave PowerPoint for board meetings and college classrooms. When used anywhere outside of those, it can look outdated.
  • Don’t try to enhance your campaigns by using wacky and “cool” fonts, excessive mixes of font colors or transitions which squeeze the text or make it fly around the screen. Some playful features are better left undone.

Above all, aim to catch attention, tell a concise story and present it with a drizzle of style and elegance. If you can follow these guidelines, your next outdoor campaign will be a success!