Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Ticker, Flipper, Scroll or Crawl...Or Not At All, Part Deux

In a previous post I talked about how, depending on your digital signage objectives and the dwell time of your customer, whether a text crawl adds or distracts. A recent NYTimes story talks about how some TV networks have been leaving their crawl live during commercials to help; a) keep viewers tuned in to the commercial itself and, b) less likely to change the channel. So while the crawl may keep TV viewers tuned in, especially during commercials, the TV show they are watching is the prime reason why they are tuned to a specific TV network to being with. Translated to a digital signage layout, that should make use of a crawl (ticker, flipper, scroll or otherwise) a distant second to the main message that you are trying to captivate your audience with.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Spy Something Wrong With This Digital Sign

What is worse then a digital sign suffering from BSOD disease (Blue Screen Of Death)? How about a digital sign suffering from working, but not very well (as pictured above)? I came across this the other day in a local supermarket. Its frustrating to see. A company invests in digital signage, but due to poor execution will most likely not be investing more any time soon. On the other hand, it is digital signage and you should be able to correct these problems without having to physically change the sign itself, no? A couple of observations...

#1. Let's print out a message from the PC and tape it on the digital sign. Why? Hopefully people are looking at the digital sign while they wait for their 1/4lb of smoked turkey breast. I would venture to guess that unfortunately, this digital signage solution is simply inaccessible to the end-user and too complicated for store level managers to operate and printing a sign with their PC was easier. It doesn't have to be this way. If you would like to manage content, be able to change certain parts or pieces of the digital sign, or modify a playlist with an unscheduled special offer, then an appropriate easy-to-use solution should have been specified.

#2. You can drive a truck through the black area around the image and the physical bezel around the flat panel display. This is either a problem with the output/player hardware communicating to the display or the display not synching properly to the output/player hardware. Either way, it appears nobody has trained the staff on how to troubleshoot this problem or nobody is monitoring the status of this location on the network.

#3. Now serving, #75. Again with the appropriate digital signage solution a clerk at the counter can advance a counter and the order number being served can advance on the digital sign, or at least install them next to each other so people will watch what is on the digital sign too. An on-site assessment is essential for all digital sign installations and should have been done and at least revealed this opportunity to improve upon the current situation.

#4. And then there are all of those other pieces of paper taped above the "Now Serving" sign. Well those are just for store employees, but perhaps they could be placed in a little less conspicuous location next time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

To Ticker, Flipper, Scroll or Crawl...Or Not At All

It has been proven that your brain remembers better when it is processing one thing at a time. While that is paramount to remember when designing content for digital signage, there are always exceptions. A menu board with multiple selections to choose from perhaps or an information display that communicates status and advertising for commuters or shoppers in a public space. If taking into account your clients objectives and the dwell time of your audience requires and or allows you to present more information on a screen at a time, then do so with caution and be sure to do so with a well executed design plan. And dont forget, digital signage software providers love tickers. Most all have some way of providing either RSS feeds or text crawls to your digital sign, but what is the most effective way in which to provide these little snippets of information? If they truly are snippets then forget it. Do away with the clutter a text crawl introduces and what's left on screen will communicate much better. But if you must, consider the flipper instead of the ticker or crawl. CNN has, and for what its worth, if you want to communicate a complete thought quick and efficiently, the flipper does a good job. Instead of display multiple scrolling stories or information, one story or piece of information is presented at a time with an animated transition between each one.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Remembering What You See Requires Focused Attention

Bigger better faster cheaper and on and on it goes. While this phenomenon has helped give rise to the digital signage industry and countless other more efficient processes, thanks in part to being able to do more with less, it does not mean open season on displaying as much information as possible on a beautiful state-of-the-art high resolution flat panel display just because you can.

Being able to view and take in a lot of information may be necessary for analytical applications and operation centers but for your typical digital signage display, I don't think so. If there is a method and a logic to the way in which you lay out and design the information to appear on a screen maybe, but always keep in mind whether or not it meets the objective of your client and the dwell time of the audience. A Carnegie Mellon brain imaging study showed that when performing two tasks at once, a person's brain activity is only 56 percent of what it was when focused on the two activities separately. In other words, when you try to do or look at too many things at once, your brain doesn't work as well. As a college professor of mine would always say, "KISS" or Keep It Simple Stupid!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Digital Signage Information Anxiety, When A Third Of Everything Is Still A Lot:

"Information anxiety", a phrase coined by TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference series founder Richard Saul Wurman, would be appropriate to describe the feeling someone might get with interest in investing in digital signage technology to improve their business. One only needs to Google “digital signage” to see the amount of hits the term receives, many of which are from companies with product solutions.

I like to divide things into thirds, whether it be a screen layout or a good better and best product line-up, but when about a third of all available digital signage solutions (some pictured above) is still a lot, there is bound to be difficulty and confusion trying to decide on which one is right for you and your business. Based on an assessment of your needs and an understanding of your expectations I can help identify which solution would be best for you and help turn your anxiety into happiness.