Content creation can be one of the most intimidating elements to digital signage. Content creators always want to talk about things like formats, digital assets, bit rates, compression, and other high tech terms! For many this content creation lingo is a foreign language. But other words like high quality, fast, bright, compatible, short, and similar, are part of one’s normal vocabulary.
Most of the time, the costs and complexities of content creation are due to miscommunication. The “language barrier” leads to design re-work, extended graphics creation, and incompatible file formats which all contribute to increased time and costs. The content creation process doesn’t have to be complex.
Many people have most of the elements to do the creation themselves. You too are likely to possess these elements. The only items you may lack are the tools to combine the ideas and materials to make it look great and work great in your digital signage system. The following tips may help speed the process, cut costs, and improve accuracy.
Is your goal to inform, sell, entertain, and/or announce?
Many examples are out there. Good design can be found in TV commercials, magazines, billboards, websites, and more. If you see a design or style that catches your eye, chances are it communicates well with others. Something in that design “works” for you. Pass that information to your content creator. “I saw a commercial on TV last night that…” There is nothing wrong with gaining inspiration from existing work. Copying is not what I am suggesting; there is no copyright on effective design and layout.
If the design idea only exists in your mind, be as descriptive as possible. Paint the picture with as many words and adjectives as possible and chances are the design team will get it right the first time!
Great looking artwork is essential in content creation. Another one of those “high tech” terms designers like to use is “vector art.” Vector art is different than a .jpg image. Vector art is limited to somewhat simple detail but is great because it can be scaled up to enormous size without any diminishing quality. Logos are often created in Vector format. Ask your marketing department for your logo in this format and always provide as much of your “simple” art to your content creator in vector form. You will not likely have the tools to open the file as it will have an extension like .eps or .ai, but trust me, it will be the file type your designer prefers.
In all likelihood you have images that you’ll want to send to the designer as well. Try to dig up an original photo, not one that has been resized or “crunched” to load quickly on a webpage. Having high quality images opens many doors of design.
Spending the time to gather high quality art can really pay off in the end. You won’t be blasted with repeat phone calls from the designer begging for better art, and the designer won’t have to spend hours rebuilding your artwork.
Provide the content creator with as much information about your playback scenario, as possible. You may not have a lot of information about this, but you hold the key to the research. At a minimum let the content creator know your signage provider. It can be frustrating to get through the content design process only to find in the end that the content doesn’t display properly or that it does not playback smoothly or worse yet, it won’t play at all.
Unfortunately, there are many variables that involve the most “foreign tech lingo.” It would be a dream if there was a one-size-fits-all solution – which is what StrandVision is attempting to move toward with their Content Developer program. Although, many manufacturers of playback devices want to be perceived as being able to take anything that is sent its way. The truth is that, while some devices take many formats, chances are there is one “native”, “preferred”, “optimal”, or “best” option for each device and that’s the format that should be used.
If you don’t know how to determine the best option, let the content creator know the manufacturer and model number of your playback device and display. It is worthwhile for the content creator to do a little investigation before starting the design process.
Ask the content provider to show you a preview along the way to eliminate at-deadline surprises. Ask for a small sample file with the project specs that you can download and test in your system before taking delivery of the final version.
Once you have put the effort, time and money into your digital signage network, don’t let it get old. Your audience will tune out the message and eventually stop looking at the sign altogether if they see the same message over and over. There is no ready-made formula to this because it is dependent upon how frequently your audience comes in contact with the sign.
Look into developing a continuing support contract with your provider. A contract will ensure that your content is fresh and will allow the content provider to pass design savings to you. Sometimes content doesn’t need to be completely re-created; often a little “freshening up” can do the trick. Changing the color scheme or text, or swapping a couple of images can be a quick way to deliver a new sign to your audience.
These are just a few examples of how to keep control of your digital signage content and keep costs down. Being informed and prepared will allow your content provider to efficiently turn out your signage masterpieces!