School information boards have been a primary way of communicating with student bodies for centuries. It’s easy to forget that at one point in time, schools didn’t have email, social media, digital displays or even the ability to print out flyers. The information board - or bulletin board - has been central to campus communication since the 1800s (and probably a lot earlier than that).
However, the same problem applies now as it did then:Is anyone reading this stuff?
It’s easy to throw up any old news or informational item and assume students and staff will see it. The person in charge of creating the information board will completely understand what’s being communicated because it all came out of their head. The real question is: Does anyone else?
What this article is really about is designing school information boards that are effective and efficient at communicating to your entire campus. We’ll cover best practices, design tips and considerations for both digital and traditional school information boards.
What’s the purpose?
It’s time to take a deep brain dive into why we have school information boards in the first place. This is a really important step because the more the information board goes out of scope or becomes information overload, the more ineffective the information board becomes. The last thing you want to do is make something that no one looks at, often ignore and effectively stops communicating information.
And so, as we dig into this, let’s outline one design rule to steer us through the entire process:Less is more.
While keeping this rule in mind write down the goal or purpose of your information board. An example could be:
- Present big and clear information regarding emergency situations
- Alert the campus body to important upcoming events (graduation, holidays, finals, etc.)
- Recognize students and faculty that have gone above and beyond for the school, community, or the world at large
We recommend limiting the goal or purpose to a few items. Again, if the list starts to get too long, it’s possible the information board will lose its effectiveness.
Before you start planning your information board content calendar, it’s always a good idea to get data on what’s worked in the past. How do you do this? Survey of course!
Consider sending out a survey to the staff and ask them:
- What would you like to see on the information board(s) this year?
- What information has seemed to be lacking in the past?
- Has the information been clear and easy to understand?
- Has the information been displayed in a way that’s clear and easy to read?
- What has worked in the past?
You can also send out a survey to the student body. Now, depending on the age group, you may be thinking this will be a waste of time. But that isn’t a good reason not to do it. Negative responses, generally tend to be the most honest and are full of rich and detailed information. That being said, fourteen-year-olds might be the best population to get great insights from!
The responses you will receive will hopefully uncover a clearer direction on where to take your information board in the future. And most importantly, set a reminder to conduct this survey annually or bi-annually. Being able to review past responses will help you see if your strategy and process is trending in the right direction.
Information Board Design
Regardless if you’ve gone digital or you’re still using a corkboard with construction paper, the fundamentals of information board design are the same. The goal of your information board should be to communicate important messaging and/or information in a clear and concise manner that’s easy for the campus-body to digest. And the way that’s done is by using good design practices when creating your information board.
Use A Large Font / Letter Size
You can see this sign a mile away thanks to the large type :) - Photo by Jacob Prose from Pexels
Your information board will be viewed from various distances. In order for it to communicate to the maximum number of people possible, you’ll have to increase your font or letter size to the largest size that works with your design.
One advantage of using digital information boards is that letter size can be easily increased and adjusted. If you create your information board the traditional way, using markers and pens, making a mistake becomes very time consuming to correct.
Create A High Contrast Design
High contrast designs help people see information more clearly. Additionally, certain people with disabilities require high contrast information. That’s why designing for disabled people to begin with tends to create a better design for everyone in the end.
One area that can be problematic is when certain color palettes are used. For instance, you may be using your school’s color palette for your text and background colors. There’s a chance that the contrast ratio between these colors isn’t great enough to satisfy the contrast requirement for people with disabilities. You may have to opt for white and black for most of your textual information. To check your contrast ratio use this site.
Cut Out The Clutter
We know, it’s tempting to add one more thing..but it’s just bad design. Image Source.
Clutter prohibits effective communication by adding too much visual and informational noise to your message. The more the viewer’s eyes bounce around the information board, a cluttered design becomes more of a distraction to information consumption. Remember, less is more.
Information board design is an iterative process. It’s O.K. to start with a lot of information, a particular layout in mind and a guess at letter sizing. You may have to rework your board a few times to get it right. This is how most great things are made! Again, digital information boards make this process a lot easier.
Avoid Swiping Slides and Changing Screens
You definitely don’t want less important information interfering with an emergency situation message.
This specifically applies to digital information boards. Boards that continually change every few seconds may seem like an advantage: you can fit more information on your boards by having a near infinite amount of slides at your disposal. However, if you really want information to stick, it’s wise to use one screen during your messaging cycle.
If you can do it, try to focus on one main informational message a week. More students and staff members will likely retain the message.
The placement and location of your school’s information board is a critical factor to its effectiveness.
Long hallways may seem like a great place to put an information board. However, if students and staff tend to walk briskly by without looking at the information board, it might be a poor location for it. Study behavior around hallway areas and take notice of whether or not people look at the walls or if they only look straight ahead.
The hallways may be better suited for murals depicting school pride as shown in the photo above. Image Source
A better location for your information board may be in places where people tend to congregate and where they’re not walking from one location to another. Consider placing your information board at the end of a hallway where people walk towards it and not alongside it. This can increase the time they have to capture information as they approach the information board.
Good Examples of Traditional School Information Boards
Let’s go over a few real-life examples of schools that have done a great job at executing traditional cork information boards.
The Perfectly Organized & Laid Out Parent Board
This information board has a well-organized layout, good contrast, clear typography and isn’t cluttered. It also engages parents to grab a clipboard to dig into more information.
The Growth Mindset Information Board
The above bulletin board is a good example of clear lettering and large text. Not to mention, the Growth Mindset theme has tremendous value to students and staff. Finally, we can see that this bulletin board isn’t cluttered.
The Textured Positive Message Board
This is a great example of how to keep a themed message crystal clear and easy to digest. For instance, this bulletin board idea could be used during spring for several weeks. It’s a simple message with a highly textured feel that makes the message stick and remain memorable.
Good Examples of Digital School Information Boards
One of the best things about digital information board systems is that they can be updated quickly to get important, even life-saving, information out to the campus body.
The digital information board above is high-contrast and the message is succinct. Exactly what you need in an emergency situation.
Many schools will put up tons of information about all sorts of events, positive messaging and other things in one huge cluttered information board. There will be so much information, that very little information is transferred because of the high level of noise. Sometimes, it’s best to focus on one key event and subtract everything else.
Upcoming SAT and ACT Dates
Similar to the Upcoming Exam information boards, letting students know of the most important college-required tests is another good idea. Some students won’t know that there are multiple dates to take the test and other key information. Don’t let them fall victim to hearsay - put the facts up on the wall!
How to Create a Digital Information Board
You’ll need two hardware items in order to create a digital information board. They are:
- A TV with an HDMI port
- A media player
Your school may already have TVs around campus. Perhaps they’re used for slideshows and keynote presentations. Ask your IT department if one can be used for a digital information board or if a new one can be ordered.
All digital information boards require a media player to operate the information board software. There are numerous media players on the market as of today - here are some we recommend. If you need help choosing the right media player, then you will find this article to be helpful.
The next step is to install the information board software on your media player. You can sign up for a free Rise Vision account here and get started with our software. If you have any questions about anything related to getting started, always feel free to reach out to our support team.
Once you’re set up, simply choose one of our templates from our templates gallery. You’ll find these templates are easy to use and the amount of time spent updating your information board will be a fraction of what it used to be.
All our templates are optimized for digital signage use and adhere to the best practices mentioned above.