Fonts for digital signage is part of our How to Design for Digital Signage series that provides tips and ideas on how you can design better, more effective and beautiful screens.
#3: Fonts For Digital Signage
Some of your digital signage content will most likely contain text. Images might be more engaging, but it’s text that often allows us to understand complex ideas in a more precise manner.
In this post we’re going to focus on three main categories of fonts and how they apply to digital signage.
Serif fonts have small lines (sometimes also called “feet”) at the ends of each letter. They tend to be thought of as more classic, serious or traditional. Some common serif fonts include Times New Roman, Garamond and Baskerville.
Sans-serif fonts are – you guessed it – fonts that don’t have those extra lines at the ends of letters. Because of that, they’re generally thought to look cleaner and more modern. Common sans-serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica and Verdana.
SCRIPT (SOMETIMES ALSO KNOWN AS DECORATIVE)
Scripts are based on the fluid stroke created by handwriting. The cursive fonts you’ve seen before that have connecting letters (written in a flowing style) – those are script fonts! Script fonts carry with them more of a personal touch, but also vary in style; some may look like casual handwriting, while some look more like elegant calligraphy.
SERIF v.s. SANS-SERIF v.s. SCRIPT
There’s a reason why a lot of your printed books use serif fonts. Many feel that serif fonts make long paragraphs of running text in print easier to read and navigate.
This changes however when we make the shift to web or pixel based screens. There, sans-serif fonts dominate. The fine, delicate and small details of serifs don’t display as well on big screens (especially those with low resolutions) and can end up looking distorted, so designers tend to favour sans-serif fonts for digital signage and other digital displays. Sans serif fonts are easier to read, especially when you take into account that people may be viewing your screens from a distance.
For similar reasons, script fonts aren’t great for large bodies of text.
Instead, they’re great for headlines, or situations that call for a personal touch. Say, wedding invitations or holiday greetings.
When designing and using fonts for digital signage, you’ll also want to consider hierarchy. It indicates where a user should start reading and how to proceed. By changing up the font and size, you can easily highlight a piece of text as a main headline.
Examples of establishing a hierarchy and playing with different font pairings. Left – large serif font for the headline, small sans-serif font for the body text. Right – Two sans-serif fonts go well together, but the difference in size tells the viewer what to look at first.
Main things to remember when choosing fonts for digital signage
- Make it readable. Sans-serif is the safest way to go. Serif is for long paragraphs of text (which you should avoid on your digital signage in the first place!) or for short headlines. Script fonts are also ok if text is minimal.
- Use no more than 2 fonts. The more fonts you use, the busier and “noisier” your design can appear. This may affect readability.
- Establish a hierarchy. The text with the biggest font size should be the main message you want viewers to notice. This is often the headline. Less important text should be smaller in size. This shows viewers where to look and what’s important.
Struggling to find the perfect font pairing or want some new typefaces in your arsenal?
The following tools are a great resource:
How to choose colors for digital signage is part of our How to Design for Digital Signage series that provides tips and ideas on how you can design better, more effective and beautiful screens.
#2: How To Choose Colors For Digital Signage
Following our “Less is More” tip in how to design for digital signage, using color strategically is the next step you should take. Leveraging a selective color scheme is vital in creating clarity.
Color choices can make or break a design.
In fact, research shows that color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
Think about your brand or the message you want to get across. Is it urgent? Is it meant to be soothing? Color theory teaches us that warm colors like red, orange and yellow are generally energizing and happy, while cooler tones are calming and relaxing. Colors are an excellent way to evoke certain emotions, or express the unique personality of your brand.
The meaning of colors often depend on context as well. Red for example, can be associated with love or hatred, can symbolize danger, boldness, a sense of urgency, and attract a whole lot of attention. It all depends on context, and in today’s world, we trained to understand this meaning almost immediately.
There’s a reason why sales are often written and advertised in big bold red letters!
So how to choose colors for digital signage?
Start with a color palette.
Restricting yourself to select few colors and reducing the overall number of colors you use, helps to create a cohesive look. Color palettes are a fundamental element that can help build brand recognition through visual communication.
An easy way to start is to use color theory. Align your palette with color theory principals to give yourself an idea of what colors you could start with. Is there a specific color that strongly aligns with your brand values?
Another great and easy way to start building a color palette is to reference images you like or images that reflect your brand’s personality.
Keep in mind that you want to have a few good base colors that you can use as backgrounds, and at least one accent color (to help things stand out).
Still need more help? Here’s a color palette generator that might be useful:
Remember contrast too.
When developing a color palette, remember to look out for contrast between your selected colors. Color contrast is used to make the most important element of a page pop. High contrast like dark on light, or light on dark makes things easier to read. Take caution though, if everything on your screen is high contrast, it can get tiring on the eye after a while. Similarly enough, while low contrast colors (i.e. monochromatic colors) can look beautiful paired together, it can often be hard to read, especially when it comes to type (text).
Take a look at your color palette to ensure that you’ve included at least one dark and one light color that contrast each other nicely.
So go get started! With this information, you should now have a good idea on how to choose colors for digital signage!
How to Design for Digital Signage is a new series that provides tips and ideas on how you can design better, more effective and beautiful screens. Follow on to learn more about designing digital signs!
#1 Less is More
Minimalism has taken the world by storm. Remember when the World Wide Web (WWW) first came out in the early 90s? Most people didn’t quite know what to do with their web pages. It started off with mostly just paragraphs of text, with garish bright colours, and an overwhelming amount of poorly organized information.
Now, take a look at the websites of some of today’s leading companies:
Starbucks 2017 Homepage
SAP 2017 Homepage
Airbnb 2017 Homepage
Much cleaner, and simpler right?
That’s because at any given point, there’s just one main call to action. A huge benefit of minimalism is its clarity of form. It takes into account that most people don’t read, they scan. This means they don’t usually look at everything. So the more things you place on a medium, the noisier and more distracting it tends to be for a user.
Now apply that same concept of “less is more” onto your screen designs. Try and distill down what the key message is. If you have several things you need to convey to your users, try splitting them into various slides instead of jamming it all into one.
Here’s an example of how Lego has simplified its ads over the years (left – ad from the 90s, right – 2006 ad)
It’s not that the previous ad isn’t compelling in its own way, but as you can tell, it’s a lot busier. Your mind has a lot more to process, and there are multiple things fighting for your attention. The newer ad on the other hand, has one clear message it’s trying to convey – imagination.
There’s a beauty in simplicity and it can still be effective! The Lego Imagine Campaign ended up being a winner in the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
So keep it simple when designing digital signs. It can often be more impactful and help to get the main idea across in a more concise and effective way!
Today we released a new 10x image template named “Colton” in the Get Started collection:
This image template allows you to make any combination of the 10 images visible. For example, you may choose to start with only one visible image. Then, over time, you could add up to nine more visible images to the content item.
This approach requires the creation of only a single content item, published once and scheduled once. Also, since the visible images are in a single content item, there are instant transitions between the visible images.
Need help visualizing how digital signage might look like in your place of business? Browse a collection of digital signage examples we’ve put together to see how they can be used in various settings.
We’ve pulled together a collection of digital signage content samples to serve as some inspiration for you. Use them, reference them and start building some new engaging content for your own company! Check out the full list of content ideas.