Interactive Digital Signage Best Practices

March 20, 2017
We’ve written about digital signage best practices before, but focused mainly on passive content. Interactive digital signage is a fancy way of saying touchscreens. Many of the best practices from passive content apply to interactive but there are a few important pieces that you need to know about when it comes to interactive content.

Interactive digital signage is great for some things but not everything. Example use cases where interactive adds a lot of value include:

  • Donor recognition
  • Halls of fame
  • Directories
  • Marketwalls
  • Job boards
  • Yearbooks and guestbooks
  • Information displays
  • Data collection

Displays

Small 8 - 20”

Small touch screens like tablets or more commercial displays are great for small kiosks or jobs like collecting data. If you’re a coffee shop, foundation, school or retailer having a small touchscreen near the point of sale or a space where people are waiting is great for collecting phone numbers or email addresses.

Medium 30 - 50”

Directories, information displays, job boards, yearbooks and guestbooks are all great content for medium sized touch displays. These displays come in all shapes and sizes, everything from normal displays with a touch overlay to ruggedized displays meant for constant use in high traffic areas. The display you select should be based on on where you will be placing it.

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Interactive Job Board at the University of South Alabama Mitchell College of Business. This display allows students to see upcoming internship and full time employment opportunities.

If you are installing a directory in the entrance of your office, then a touch screen with an overlay would be a good choice. If you’re installing an information display in the entrance or atrium of a building on campus, then a more rugged kiosk would probably be the better choice.

Large 50 - 90”

Large WOW inducing displays are perfect for donor walls, halls of fame and Marketwalls. When you want to amaze your audience or recognize performance in a big way, going with big touch screen displays is the way to go. Arranging multiple large touch screen displays in the room to form a video wall or artistic experience is a great way to make a big impact and allow multiple guests to interact at one time.


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7 82” Samsung displays with touch screen overlays at Indiana University. These displays allow multiple guests to view donors and their stories.

Content

Content will always depend on the use case but, as a general rule of thumb, less is more. Just because it’s a touch screen and it can have ten pages does not mean it should. One way we help clients decide what to show is by writing a list of all the possible content the various stakeholders would like to show, then ordering it by what is most important.

We can use the job board example from above and do a quick exercise.

Brainstorming

Here is a list of items that could be displayed on a jobs board in a university:

  • Internships
  • Full time employment
  • Events
  • Contact us
  • Club activities
  • Student success stories
  • World news and weather

Refinement

Alright, now that we have our list of content it’s time to review the list and take into consideration a few factors.

  • Goals: The goal of this installation is to help students find jobs and to help employers connect with talent.
  • Audience: The audience of this display will be primarily university students.
  • Location: Point of wait as well as transit depending on the time of day.  


After reviewing these factors and the list above you can probably start to see where we’re going with this. Items like news, weather, a contact page, and student success stories don’t help us achieve the goals. However, an argument can be made that showing events and club activities will help achieve the goal. For example promoting recruiting events or presentations by industry professionals at club events.


After reviewing the list it was decided that other passive displays in the building would do a better job of promoting the events and club activities. This leaves us with our top two pieces of content, internship and full time employment opportunities.

The Specifics

Now that we have the categories of content it’s time to get into the specifics. We’ll be showing two categories of job postings, each of those categories will require specific pieces of content. For example with an internship you need to know when it’s taking place and whether it’s a summer co-op or a fall co-op, whereas with full time employment that’s not an important detail.

Internships:

  • Company
  • Job Title
  • Location
  • Major
  • Semester
  • Brief description
  • Contact

Full Time Employment:

  • Company
  • Job Title
  • Location
  • Brief description
  • How to apply

By going through this sort of exercise you can determine exactly what content should be shown to best accomplish the goal of the display.


Design

We’ve written numerous times about design principles and digital signage design so we won’t go too in-depth here but we’ll touch on it. Interactive design should follow many of the same principles as passive design but with a few tweaks.

Text

  • Text should use legible fonts.
  • Paragraph and body text should not be so large that it is difficult to read when you are up close
  • Paragraph and body text should not go all the way across the screen otherwise the person using the touchscreen will need to move back to read it.
  • Keep it brief, try to use as few words as possible to get your message across. A great tool to cut down your text is the Hemingway App.

Layout

The layout should be simple to navigate and understand. Interactive digital signage design is similar to web or app design. Following common layout standards, symbols and user flows makes it so that anyone can easily use the display.

Graphics and Images

One of the biggest mistakes we see clients make is asking for a design that features images and graphics heavily but then having poor quality images or very few images. If you are building a hall of fame and want to feature photos of athletes make sure you have lots of high quality photos. If you don’t, make sure you let the designer know and they can work with you to create a design that looks great and doesn’t require great quality images and graphics.

Another item to take into consideration are image and the file sizes. Images and videos played on a 1920x1080px display don’t need to be 5000x5000px. Where possible, images should be resized so that they fit perfectly and optimized using a lossless image optimization tool so they load quickly (we use ImageOptim).

Putting together all of the above pieces to create a coherent interactive installation will help ensure your project is successful. It is all these pieces that make up a great user experience.

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