Designing for digital signage? You’ll need the right digital signage software. With ScreenScape’s built-in Media editor, creating effective digital signage content has never been easier. But what does effective digital signage content look like? It’s beautiful, it’s simple, it has a clear and precise message, and often it’s dynamic and tailored for the local audience. Looking for some help designing for your digital sign? Here are the Top 10 Design Tips for Digital Signage:

1. Keep It Short.

The 3-step Catch, Inform, Action (CIA) message works best in most digital signage environments. To increase the effectiveness of your messaging, follow these five copy recommendations whenever possible:

• Don’t use a lot of words to convey your message.
• Be declarative.
• Be grammatically complete.
• Be otherwise standard.
• Contain alliteration, metaphor or rhyme.

Example of Catch, Inform, Action Messaging for Digital Signage

2. Choose the Right Font & Font Size.

Legibility matters. The bigger the room and the greater the distance between the screen and its audience, the bigger your digital signage message should be. Also, time is money: the longer it takes viewers to make sense of your message, the less chance they’ll read and understand the whole thing:

• Utilize the brand’s font guidelines.
• Vary the usage of font weights and sizes.
• Make your text big enough (if in doubt, bigger is better).

Viewing Distance and Font Size for Digital Signage Diagram

3. Use a Strong, Constant Call-to-Action.

A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete or ineffective. The same is true for digital signage.

• Start the call-to-action with a verb.
• Keep the verb and the subject close together: “Ask a salesperson for details” or “Book your appointment today”.
• Ask the viewer to do some task that he or she can complete immediately or in the near future.
• Use size, color and surrounding negative space to draw attention to your call-to-action.

Sample screens showing strong Call to Action messaging

4. Consider Contrast Before Color.

Contrast, not color, is far more important when it comes to getting your content noticed, watched and remembered. It’s all too easy to include graphical elements that draw the viewer’s attention away from the critical part of your content: the message itself.

Bill Gerba Color Contrast Chart for Digital Signage
Color Contrast Chart from “Making Great Digital Signage Content” by Bill Gerba

5. Chunk Your Information to Improve Recall.

Chunking is a term referring to the process of taking individual pieces of information (chunks) and grouping them into larger units. By grouping each piece into a large whole, you can improve the amount of information you can remember.

• Order your information into groups or key phrases and set them into distinct areas of the screen.
• Use the Rule of Three to build sentences or phrases as a progression of three clauses.
• Use alliteration, rhyme and meter to make your information easier to remember.

Menus are a great example of how to chunk information
Menus are a great example of information chunking. Food items are split into groups like “Appetizers”, “Entrees”, and “Drinks” or, as in this case, “Size”, “Sauce”, “Crust”, and “Toppings”.

6. Take Advantage of the Serial Position Effect.

The serial position effect notes how an element’s position in a list affects the number of readers who are able to recall it later.

• Present the first few items on the list at a slower speed to enhance the primary effect.
• If you have a call-to-action at the end of your content, keep it short and simple so it won’t compete with your core message.
• When in doubt, choose your two best messages and leave it at that. Sometimes less is more. If there’s one message that’s more important than the rest, keep it on the screen for as long as possible.

Be aware of the Serial Position Effect when presenting visitors with a list of any kind (a set of links, products, features, etc.). The viewer will more easily remember the first and last items in a list.
Be aware of the Serial Position Effect when presenting visitors with a list of any kind (a set of links, products, features, etc.). The viewer will more easily remember the first and last items in a list.

7. Gather ALL Available Creative Assets.

Most digital signage will be deployed as an additive component to existing marketing and advertising campaigns. All the raw assets (graphics, animations, video, sounds, etc.) available should be pooled, inspected and analyzed, then reused or re-purposed for digital signage. You can find these assets in a variety of places.

ScreenScape’s Content Management System allows you to import your creative assets from wherever they reside—Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive, DropBox and One Drive.

Gather all Creative Assets from wherever they live

8. Choose Your Imagery Carefully.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s all too easy to include graphical elements that draw viewer attention away from the critical part of your content—the message itself. Eye candy that may make a design visually pleasing can also dull down your brand or message even to the point where viewers cannot recall it later.

• Identify the core messages.
• Think of a single image or visual element to go along with each of these core ideas.
• Take each message-visual combination and do a poster mockup.
• Elements that have a strong and easily identifiable silhouette will take fewer cognitive resources to identify.
• Consider the environment in which the spots will run; different images can have entirely different meanings in different contexts.

Choose the images you use for your digital signage carefully
The image to the left features a busy background which makes the text harder to read and can distract the viewer from the message. The minimalist design to the right puts more emphasis on the product and makes the text more legible.

For more about images, you can read our blog post, Choosing the Right Images for Digital Signage.

9. Consider the Medium as Print with Motion.

While you may think that having an object move on screen would make it more eye-catching and more memorable, the opposite can also be true. In fact, poorly planned motion can decrease visibility and readability, making your content less effective.

• Just because you can make it move doesn’t mean that you should.
• Don’t let motion interfere with readability or comprehension.
• Any period when important text or other critical message components are off the screen is potentially a missed opportunity to connect.
• The most important features of your spot should be static.
• Motion on the periphery is more subtle than animations in the middle of the field of view.

In the video above, rather than animating the text, this screen features an animated border. The movement is enough to catch the viewer’s eye without sacrificing the readability of the message. If you don’t have any animations included in your content, use one of ScreenScape’s panelled Playlist layouts containing revolving news headlines and weather forecasts to catch the viewer’s attention.

10. If Available, Use Sound Effectively.

The vast majority of digital signage networks do not use sound. Sounds can be part of digital signage content, and where it is appropriate, it can enhance the viewer’s experience. When designing content, ask if it requires sound. Remember, in digital signage sound is ALWAYS used to support the visuals.

• Point of Sale networks could have sound, but that depends largely on the location of the screen.
• The most likely candidates for sound are Point of Wait networks.
• Sound should not necessarily be used in every message in a playlist. Use it sparingly to create impact.

Want a copy of our Design Tips for Digital Signage document? Download it today!