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Making great digital signage content: A quick reference guide

Author: Bill Gerba on 2008-05-23 16:17:14

For the past few months, our articles have focused on a simple question: how can you make your digital signage content more effective? To answer this question, we've looked at quite a few rules-of-thumb and real-world examples of how to create great content. However, I also know that going through the whole series can be a bit daunting. After all, we're talking about nine articles and more than 9,000 words -- not exactly light reading. So to make things easier, I've put together a quick reference guide to the digital signage content series, complete with a brief summary of the key points from each article. Whether you're reading the articles for the first time or you just need a refresher course, I hope you find this one-stop shop useful. Wow, we really did cover a lot of ground here! I still have a lot more questions, though, and I bet you do too. So tell me:

First, what else would you like to know about digital signage content? Where should our research lead us next?

Second, what was your favorite (or least favorite) article in the series, and why?

I really appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment and let me know.

Comments (24)

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2008-10-16Paul writes:
Great tips! Especially for motion graphic artists.

-cebu, philippines
2008-10-27Bill Gerba writes:
Thanks for the kind words, Paul.

I'll be doing an expanded version of these articles along with some new research findings at DSE 2008 in Las Vegas. See you there!
2009-07-08Bonnie Murphie writes:
I agress, great tips.

I would be interested to here what your thoughts are on how many different messages you should show in one sequence and how long each should display for.

2009-07-08Bill Gerba writes:
Hi Bonnie,

What you're talking about is the "loop length," and while there are varying opinions on what's optimal, the general concensus is that the total loop length should be greater than the average trip time for a viewer in your venue. So for example, if you know that the typical shopper at your supermarket spends 20 minutes in the store, you'd want your loop time to be longer - perhaps 25 minutes. Now, that's not to say that you wouldn't show the same message twice (or more) in the loop - that will depend on your business model and the goals for the network. But in general, most people seem to agree that a running loop should only be seen once per trip.
2009-11-17Luis writes:
Nice post!
Helped me a lot,as newby in digital signages.
Sort of became a handbook.
2009-11-17Bill Gerba writes:
Hi Luis,

Thanks for the kind words. Let me know if there's any other info of this kind that you'd like to see.

2010-02-04Rhiannon writes:
Hi Bill,
Would you be able to offer any insight on attract loops specifically? Such as preferred run time and types of messaging that should be included?
2010-03-11Bill Gerba writes:
Hi Rhiannon,

Are you talking about content whose only purchase is to move the viewer in a different direction? If your screen is set up to ALWAYS do just one thing like that, my best advice would be to try out a lot of different messages and see which ones work best. Message length and delivery will be critical, since you're (presumably) trying to attract a moving viewer. Big, bold graphics, and big, clear, easy-to-read text are vital.

Good luck!
2010-07-08louboutin writes:
Thanks for your share.I will come here often
2010-07-08louboutin shoes writes:
Such as preferred run time and types of messaging that should be included?
2010-07-08christian louboutin writes:
Nice post!
Helped me a lot,as newby in digital signages.
Sort of became a handbook.
2010-07-14Tam writes:
What about showing numerous ads for different businesses? How long should each ad be? Flash , graphics vs. video?
2010-07-14Tam writes:
What about showing numerous ads for different businesses? How long should each ad be? Flash , graphics vs. video?
2010-09-17Scott writes:
What resolution works best for a digital sign? 72 dpi, 96 dpi or 125 dpi. Also, if your screens optimal resolution is 1366 x 768 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 should the artwork be set up at 100% (1366 x 768) or higher?
2010-09-17Bill Gerba writes:
Tam: There's no set length that just "works." The amount of time you should leave something on screen varies with the kind of venue you're in, the movement patterns your viewers will take, and the amount of time they'll spend in front of the screen. But as a rule of thumb, don't expect them to glance at the screen for more than a second or two, so critical information should be able to be passed in that short an amount of time.

Scott: Unless your playback software is doing something very strange, DPI is irrelevant (this is screen media, not print). You only really have to worry about resolution, and yes, you should definitely output your content at the native resolution of the screen for optimal quality. However, if you're planning to expand your network in the future, you might want to author at 1080p resolution so that you can reuse your assets at 1920x1080 when you buy new screens.
2011-08-10Queentorrent writes:
Thanks for the ideas. There was a couple I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Another good resource that doesn't apply to you but does to everyone else is this blog.
2011-08-29Sarah writes:
Thanks for the useful tips, I was just looking for some info on digital signage, I'm glad I found your tutorial, it helped me a lot.

btw I totally agree, picking the color of the content matters a lot for future developments.
2011-10-06Tiffany Sommers writes:
Just wanted to thank you for this informative and wonderful post you shared! It was really nice to read it!
2011-10-20Gilmore writes:
Very good tips! Thanks so much for posting them here!
2011-10-31marilynlucas11 writes:
Guys, this is an amazing work!
2012-01-12converting flac to mp3 writes:
i see:) i like what you are doing there guys, way to go :)! new things, moving forward is always great, way to go!
2012-03-27Dan writes:
All very useful. I am a motion designer, and am in charge of plasma and marquee spots, as well as items with and without sound. Can anyone add any insight on the effectiveness of moving text? Or any links to any other articles that may have insight? That is why we make things move, because it makes them more attractive and interesting, so there has to be some information on if it is more effective to have text moving rather than static.
2012-03-28Bill Gerba writes:
Hi Dan,

There certainly is. Generally speaking, motion is great for catching the eye, but terrible for conveying textual information. Consequently, we advise that while text is moving on-screen, assume that nobody can read it. Also, don't use tickers. There's more information here:

Content for Digital Signage: Motion and the Infamous Ticker
2013-05-17Jennifer writes:
Thank you for all of these helpful articles. My employer purchased a monochrome digital sign this year and I've been looking for information just like the kind you have shared. I have a background in graphic design but I'm always looking for helpful information to tuck into my toolbox. I liked how clearly the information was written and the humor with with it was expressed. Thanks for all of the helpful tips and tricks.

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