Simplicity. What, you were expecting something else? Something a bit more complex, maybe? Well, that's the big surprise, and the big takeaway from studying hundreds of content clips from dozens of networks around the world. Whether you're making seven-second commercials for use in stores or 30-minute programs for a waiting room network, a simple rule-of-thumb applies: the less information you present during that period of time, the more likely it is that your viewers will notice, understand and remember it. Sure it seems like common sense, but I'll bet that if you go back and take a look at your content library, you'll find at least a few clips that are too complex. Many of you will find that lots of them are. That's why so many of the suggestions in Smashing Magazine's tips for effective web design struck a chord with me. For example, take the first three:
- Don't make users think
- Don't squander users' patience
- Manage to focus users' attention
Another great suggestion from the Smashing Magazine article is to communicate effectively with a "visible language." That's a phrase coined by user interface design guru Aaron Marcus. Basically, it means using your text as a design element in order to communicate your message visually (as part of a well-organized graphical layout) and textually (which actually uses some of your brain's audio hardware in addition to the visual bits and pieces). The mantra for successful use of visible language is organize, economize, communicate. In other words, organize your thoughts into distinct elements or blocks that provide a clear structure to your viewers; do the most with the fewest number of elements; and make sure the message you're sending matches up with the viewer's needs and expectations. (Of course, the place- and time-specificity of digital signage goes a long way toward accomplishing this.)
Last, but certainly not least: test early and test often! We've mentioned this before, but few companies do it -- despite how easy it is to run split tests and other shopper marketing experiments using a centrally-managed digital signage network. If you're willing to drop thousands or even millions of dollars on network infrastructure, content creation and ongoing management costs, spend the few extra bucks and figure out what's working and what's not. We have literally seen cases where a simple change resulted in a double-digit boost in content performance (measured by the viewer's ability to recall a particular message).
These tips should be a good place to start. But I really want to hear what's worked for you...
How have you made your digital signage more effective? If you could express your strategy in one simple rule, what would it be?
Leave a comment and let me know!