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Designing for digital signage is similar to designing for other mediums in many ways. For example, audience, content, and layout are all important considerations, along with digital signage-specific requirements such as data feeds, location, accessibility, and more.

digital signage design example
Key design elements on a corporate digital signage screen

Let's take a closer look at how to approach designing for digital signage:

First Step - Key questions

To get started, you need to consider a few questions: Who will be looking at my screens, where will they be looking at them, and what will they be doing when looking at the screens?

Who - Identify your audience or audiences and essential considerations such as language and accessibility that relate to them. Consider all your possible audiences - customers, visitors, employees, and more. For example, it is common to share information with multiple audiences.

What - Consider what types of information your audience needs. What information will improve their experience, reduce stress, or enhance decision-making? Ensure you incorporate as much real-time information as possible into your digital signage.

Where - Think about where your audience will be when they need information. Are they at their desk, on the move, or perhaps in a public setting? You can easily share information on digital signs, mobile phones, tablets, desktops, and more. Choose a mixture of screens that reflect the needs of your audience.

When - Are you sharing critical real-time information, or are you sharing branding and advertising information? The type of information you share on your digital screens will impact the frequency and how it is shared. Critical real-time information must be communicated immediately; such as changes to flight information in an airport or emergency notifications. Then, create a scheduled rotation for other information like news, corporate branding, advertisements, social feeds, and more.

Why - Consider why you want to share a particular piece of content or information. Make sure the content you share improves the experience, reduces stress, or enhances the knowledge of your audience.

The answers to Who, What, Where, When, and Why will drive your digital signage and content strategy.

Second Step - Content

Now it is time to think about the content you want to have on your screens. What types of content are you currently sharing with your audiences? Common types of content include news, weather, policies, schedules, social media, corporate branding, advertisements, KPIs, and emergency notifications. Currently, you may be sharing this information via emails, newsletters, intranet sites, or even printed documents.

Create a list of topics you want to share and which screens you want to share the information on to get started. For example, you might like to share company policies, HR announcements, welcome new employees, or recognize outstanding work in an office environment. While in an airport, you might want to share information like scheduling, gate location, wayfinding/directional information, or advertising. As you consider the information, think about the order in which it should appear. Create a final content list that includes the content source and file type.

Third Step - Visual appearance

Now that you know the content you want to feature, it is time to think about how the screens will look. It is essential to consider what additional elements to include on the screens. For example, branding and logos, corporate colors, date and time, news and weather, social media feeds, traffic reports are all commonly incorporated. These elements will form the static part of your template.

Fourth Step - Visual elements

Start gathering all of the necessary visual elements and media assets you will need for your digital signage. For photos, make sure the image quality is high, and the resolution is large enough to match the screen resolution at least or exceed. For video, consider how long your audience will be viewing your screens; generally, shorter is better. Also, consider resolution - are your screens all standard HD, or are they 4k? If possible, compile a list of the visual elements and the file types. Then, make sure your content management system can handle the files.

Fifth Step - Data

Consider your existing data sources and how to integrate them with your digital signage. Data may come from internal software systems, external feeds, IoT devices, etc. How easily can data be updated, and how is it best represented on screen? For example, can you convert a rainy forecast into an icon for rain on your screen, or can you highlight a low KPI measurement in red? It is essential to think about how the social feeds will be filtered when integrating social media. Corporate content is relatively safe, but followers and hashtags need to be screened for language and messaging.

Sixth Step - Personalization

Examine your desired content in the context of your audiences and form a matrix plan for your digital screens. For example, do all of your screens need to see the same information, or should you tailor certain information to specific screens based on criteria like the location? Consider changing up designs by section and use visual cues, such as color, title, layout change, to enable people to locate the content they need quickly. Additionally, consider whether you need full-screen takeovers to highlight critical information in your organization.

Learn more about design practices for digital signage in our blog.