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Digital Signage Content - A Best Practice Guide

Best Practice

Prioritisation - Look at the messages on your digital signage and consider creating a hierarchy highlighting the high and low messages in order of importance. This will help you decide which message receives more air time and their location on screen.

This is important especially when it comes to cost and use of resources to create digital signage content on budget.

Layout and Composition

These are the most important rules for getting your digital signage content layout spot on:

  • A Picture. Lead the eye to the area within your content you want your audience to look at. If you have too much visual noise going on in different areas of your content your audience will struggle to focus on the important element of the content. Start with the important message/ imagery first and then allow you audience to navigate around other detail in order of importance.
  • The Grid. Divide your template/screen into nine segments and use the linear divisions to place the most important content around. This is a great way of ensuring your content can breathe and not fight for space.
  • Preference. Place content that has the greatest value to your audience in the middle and make it the biggest and boldest that you can.
  • Boundaries and Borders. Use the borders as a frame and frame only. Keep imagery away for the edges as the trick is to lead the eye into the centre of the screen. With pictures try and point them facing into the screen rather than away. This will also help lead the eye to the centre.
  • Components. Avoid cluttering your screen with too much content as this will make it very difficult for your audiences to process the information. Depending on your screen size and viewing distance here is a general rule of thumb for text size:- Headline - Font size 40pt Supporting text - No less than 24pt Call to action - Font size 32pt Space plan text with imagery and use the hierarchy to establish the layout.
  • Access. Touch screen content should be made accessible for people of all heights with special consideration given to wheelchair users ensuring everyone can reach the interactive touch icons.


  • Number of words. Ensure that there are no more than 30 - 40 words per screen at any one time. Too many words will cause the viewer to become bored unless the information is contained with a table like a timetable or tariff card.
  • Choice of Font. Avoid light, seriffed and italicised letters and go for a non serif font. This makes it easier to read particularly at a distance. Aerial and Verdana are good examples and work very well within the context of your message.
  • Best size for distance viewing. Here is a quick guide to font size in relation to viewing distance i.e the distance the viewer is from the screen. 1.8m (6 feet) use 30 pt 3m (10 feet) use 48 pt 4m (16 feet) use 72 pt The above guide is just that. A guide. Screen size will have a big impact on the amount of content you show and the font size as well as making it pleasing to the eye. Too many fonts within one message will distract the viewer and make it difficult and undesirable to read. Keep it to two fonts maximum.
  • Arrangement. Most of us are used to reading the western alphabet from left to right. For the best layout text should be arranged from the left to make it easier for us to process. Of course, this does have its aesthetic limitations when we want to highlight a specific product or service and decide to centre the text. This can work extremely well but should be limited to short line lengths and a minimum line count as to not bore the audience with line after line of information. Keep it short and to the point.


There is a certain criteria or standard when it comes to the correct type of artwork used in digital signage. Here are the basics:

  • Image resolution. The key to the amount of detail an image holds and is expressed in DPI (Dots Per Inch) Images should be no smaller that 72 dpi.
  • Ratio. You may have heard this term expressed as the Aspect Ratio. This refers to the screens length and width. The two common aspect ratios are landscape 16:9 and Portrait 9:16 A screen specified as HD or 4K display may both share the same physical dimension taken from the bottom left to top right corner i.e 32” 43” 50” etc, however, the amount of detail each screen carries is very different.

A Standard High Definition (HD) display in landscape with a 16:9 ratio will have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. A 4K display, otherwise known as Ultra High Definition (UHD) with the same ratio will be 3840 x 2160 pixels. What all this means is your images and videos should be sized to the correct screen size and pixel count per screen.

Your pictures and videos should be of the highest possible standard to give them the best professional look. Ideally, try and get a professional photographer to create the images or, if budget is tight, look to the many online stock images libraries such as DepositPhotos or for free images companies like Splash.

Scheduling of Digital Signage Content

Scheduling your content should be looked upon as how long will your content be shown on screen, is it too repetitive and when should you stop showing your content? It’s all in the timing.

  • Longer waiting times. Footfall and location have a huge impact on the timing and scheduling of your content. For instance, a captive audience (e.g Pubs/Bars, waiting rooms, cinemas, music venues) will have a longer waiting time than that of passersby or moving traffic. Put yourself in front of your own content and calculate how long you are happy to look at something before becoming too bored and lose interest in the message. This is a great first step into understanding your customers viewing habits.
    • For static content no less than 10 seconds for static messages and no more than 40 seconds
    • If video is your preferred content choice then this form of content should be on screen for no less than 25 seconds and no more than 2 mins.

Keep the above in mind especially when the time comes to change the content (i.e a breakfast menu to lunch menu to afternoon menu to evening menu).

  • Shorter waiting times. Pavement traffic looking at a digital window display or traffic held at traffic lights or slow moving traffic require content that gets across the key aspects quickly and effectively before they move on.
    • Promotional adverts and messages should be a round 12 to 15 seconds in duration. Anything after 20 - 25 seconds you audience may well lose interest and move on.
    • Repeating information should be scheduled no less than one and a half to two mins apart unless it is practical information like flight times, timetables, opening times, box office etc.
    • Content/messages that are coming to end of life (i.e time sensitive promotions) should be changed or phased out over a period of 1 - 2 months. This is to ensure you target audience does not see the same message more than 12 times within that period.

    One really good trick when it comes to scheduling and rescheduling your content is to split your screen into half with separate content. Also known as screen-splitting.

    Digital Signage lends itself very well to businesses looking to attract new audiences to their product and services. For instance you may want to consider running a live web feed such as a product video to the left hand side of the screen with the prices shown on the right hand side. Or perhaps a count down to box office ticket availability for a particular theatre or film showing.

    Using a third party Application you could show a live web feed that interacts with the app to show waiting times on say parking spaces or availability of spaces.

    Intelligent content

    • QR Codes. We all have a short attention span so our content needs to be snappy to enable us to remember. However, this is not always the case particularly with detailed information. The use of a QR code alongside your product promotion will help audiences take the information away with them. This is a great solution as part of the buying process. Time of day and seasonal timings. Think about your audience demographic. Who is a round and at what time of day. For example. on a digital menu board you could offer a breakfast menu to the earlier risers and change to a lunchtime menu for people with limited time so perhaps a grab-and-go meal deal is worth considering.
    • Get personal with your digital signage content. You have your own story so why not use this to attract audiences with a personal message. You may be part of a culture within your community so appeal to them with messages that convey your story or heritage. Try to avoid standard generic messages as these tend to get absorbed into the everyday.
    • Movement. Movement attracts attention so try and introduce animation into your content. It can be something a simple as a ‘pulse’ animation around your logo or a section of content that is running a limited timed special offer. Why not adopt the screen-splitting technique and show your product in detail. For instance, you could have coffee beans falling in a continuous slow-motion effect with your hot drink variants.
    • Synchronising content. If you have multiple screens together or individually placed in and around a venue why not consider showing the same content across all screens for a limited time period. For example. You may offer a free delivery on all takeaway orders. Why not have an animated van driving across all your screens from right to left to remind your audience that you offer free delivery? This could show for 12 seconds depending on the number of adjacent screens then revert back to the previous content shown on each screen.

    Getting to know when and how to use this information can appear to be a minefield especially if you are new to digital signage. The above guide is just that. A guide to help you start thinking about creating your unique content using your unique story.

    For more support and expert advice on how to create great content that will engage with your target audience get in touch with us at James Hogg Display and speak to one of our team. 



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