By Jim Nista
Almo Pro A/V
For digital signage, everything about your content, including design, motion and messaging all go into making a memorable experience for your viewers. There’s no one right set of rules, since digital signage is used for everything from interactive wayfinding to menu boards, design guidelines vary.
Creating memorable content for digital signage borrows best practices from other forms of out of home advertising and traditional signage. Taken together, there are guidelines that apply to most signs to help your content stand out and provide a more memorable experience for your viewers.
Keep it quick
Creating an impression, especially a memorable one, is tough to achieve with visual communication. Most of the battle is attracting the viewer in the first place, and often the best way to do that is keeping your message quick. We’ve heard this as the five-second rule. With so many distractions, this might now be the three-second rule, but the timing doesn’t matter. Your viewer isn’t going to invest more than quick glance at your content. With that few seconds, you need to create an impression and grab them tight. Use interruptive and short headlines, bold contrast, juxtapositions and strong imagery to capture attention and draw the viewer in for more.
Keep it clean
Everyone has heard the less-is-more rule, and that’s even more true today with all our interruptions. Say what you need to say and keep your layout clean. Form and function are equals when it comes to layout. Too artsy, and you’ve created too much delay for your message. Too cluttered, and no one is going to bother to jump over the hurdles in your design. If your message is complex, try to get your viewer to take action and learn more through other methods besides cluttering your layout. Take the conversation to a mobile website or your social feed to continue engagement.
Lead their eye
Your layout and animation guides the viewer through your content. Contrast, sizing, color, motion and mood help lead a viewer through your content. Savvy design and animation leads the viewer with purpose through what you want them to remember. Consistency is key, especially with motion graphics. Your keyframes guide exactly where you want the viewers eyeballs, attention and ultimately recall. This doesn’t mean your design or animation should be boring and simple — instead your content needs catch and direct the viewer with intent.
Make simple points
In your copy, keep the message simple. That’s it. Fewer words are better.
Keep it legible
You might have heard of the 10-foot rule or the 50-foot rule, or whatever, but it’s not the distance that matters. Legible means different things based on the distance you intend your viewer to engage with your content. For digital bulletin boards or menus, 10 feet or 3 meters is a great guideline. If a person with average eyesight can’t read your text, it certainly won’t be memorable and they’re unlikely to take the actions you are hoping for. Make sure your text is legible and if you have a lot to say vary type weights to draw in the viewer.
Interactive displays are intended for close-up viewing and need to be legible from arm’s length or closer. Make sure for interactive content buttons and actions are consistent sizing and locations, and easy to comprehend.
Putting it all together
These design guidelines are a great place to start for creating memorable content. Beyond design and messaging, there’s so much more that goes into creative your viewers will remember and take action on, but these basics are a great place to start. The perfect headline will be even more dramatic when presented correctly with the right design layout and animation.