Choosing the Right Images 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.
#4: Choosing the Right Images
Studies show that on-premise digital signage leaves a positive, lasting impression on visitors. Whether it’s used for wayfinding, customer service messaging, or simply entertainment, dynamic digital signage is becoming a hallmark of progressive businesses. Not only can digital signage replace those messy stacks of brochures on your sales counter and fluttering slips of paper on your bulletin boards, but it can also help you keep important information for your staff and customers up to date.
Whatever you’re using it for, your digital sign is going to be more effective if it uses top quality images. This post offers you some basic tips for creating graphics with a professional touch.
You wouldn’t bother watching a television show if it was full of static or snow, would you? The same goes for images used in digital signage. Low quality, pixelated, or grainy images undermine your brand and may leave your audience with the wrong impression.
To avoid poor image quality issues, always ensure the image you are using is at least 72 dpi at full size. For ScreenScape templates, a full size image should be 1366 px wide by 768 px tall (a 16:9 ratio) at minimum, and 1920px wide by 1080px tall is recommended. The rule of thumb is this: if you have to resize a 72 dpi image to make it bigger, it will probably pixelate, but resizing to a smaller physical size is okay.
Another common issue is the stretching or squishing of an image. This is caused by improper resizing. The proper way to resize an image is to “scale” it. This will ensure the width and height of the image remain in the same ratio or proportion. In most image editing software, you can scale an image by clicking on a corner anchor point and holding down the shift key while you move the anchor point to resize the image.
Image File Types
Images come in a variety of file types, but the most popular are .jpg, .png, and .gif. Here is a breakdown of their differences:
- PNG is a non-lossy file type that can handle transparency. Although .png’s are higher quality images, they are larger in file size than .gif’s and .jpg’s.
- GIF is a lossy file type that can only handle a limited number of colors. This is why images saved out in .gif format often look like they are made of half-tone dots or pointillism. These days .gif’s are usually used for short animations.
- JPG is still by far the most popular image file type on the internet. This file type compresses the image, creating a lossy file format, but the file size is much smaller than the other two options. You cannot have a transparent background with .jpg formatted files.
ScreenScape templates allow the uploading of .jpg’s, .png’s and .gif’s of up to 6MB in size.
Over the past couple of hundred years, many studies have been performed on the subject of colour and its emotional and physiological effects. Recent studies have shown that images using an analogous palette consisting of at least five or six colours are the most memorable. Because colour has such a sensory appeal, try to use images that contain bright colours to excite the eye and keep your viewers interested.
For more information on image color, check out our previous blog post How to Choose Colors for Digital Signage.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but the wrong image can confuse your message or turn off your viewers. Make sure the subject matter of your image aligns well with your intended message and communicates in a tactful way to your chosen audience. Remember to take into account the location or locations where you image might be shown, and try to envision the full context of the situation. If you own an ice cream shop that caters to a younger crowd, don’t use an image that shows a couple of seniors slurping up icy treats in a waffle cone.
We don’t just want people to see our message, we want them to remember it. If you really want to connect with your audience, try to appeal to them on an emotional level. Images containing people, especially people showing emotions, are the most memorable images to use and greatly increase memory retention rates.
Images & Text
Another consideration in choosing the right image for your digital sign is how it will work with your text. If you put your text over the image, ensure your text is still readable. Some images are just too “busy” to use as a background image or do not provide enough contrast for readers to make out the text on top. Check out the ScreenScape template you want to use to determine if your text’s location will interfere with the image. If it looks like your text will not work with the image, you may crop the image differently, choose another image to use, or try another template.
Image Copyright & Licensing
So you were surfing the web and found the perfect image for your digital sign — or did you? Just because an image is found on the internet, doesn’t mean that it is free to use. Most images are copyrighted and require licensing for commercial use. Using a copyrighted image without procuring licensing can lead to legal disputes, suspension of social media accounts, unexpected financial settlements and other headaches. These days, budget is no longer an excuse for obtaining top quality images — there are many free or reasonably priced stock photography sites to choose from. Here are some links to some great free and paid stock photo sites for you to check out: