. . . the chicken or the egg? Or in this case what should come first – the digital signage hardware or the content?
Typically what we see is the integrator or end-user selecting the hardware first. In many cases the monitor(s) and digital signage player(s) are not only specified but installed before the content is even considered. Of course environmental factors and personal preferences are part of the equation when choosing the components but to do so without regard to the content is to potentially limit the effectiveness of the signage. The phrase “Content is King” is true; you could build a world class video wall but if the content displayed is limited due to the wrong or inappropriate hardware then the signage will not get the attention desired. Inversely, with outstanding content even the most basic (but correct) hardware will engage the viewer and make a lasting impression.
Let’s list some content requirements that can dictate hardware:
- Touch Enabled: Seems obvious but not all digital signage players have touch capabilities. Additionally, not all touch screen monitors are compatible with all DS players.
- Portrait or Landscape Mode: Only some monitors are made to work in portrait mode.
- Closed or Open Architecture: Some DS appliances don’t offer security features that could prevent unauthorized users from changing data.
- Scalability: One location or multiple locations? Local, National or International? Is the software designed to handle these parameters?
- Audio: What if the content includes audio – does the specified hardware include audio capabilities. Even if it does is it an appropriate audio system? Should an audio system that can only be heard only by those directly in front of the monitor(s) be used?
- Resolution: Is it a video wall with four or monitors? Do you have assets that are an appropriate resolution for a 4K display?
- File Size: With very complex signage that requires large volumes of data does the player have a large enough memory?
- Live TV/RSS/Data Stream: Only certain signage platforms can handle these features.
- Multi-Zone vs. Full Screen: Another limitation of some DS applications.
So next time you are specifying a digital signage application regardless of type – Wayfinding, Informational, Menu Board, Techorating, etcetera – get a solid head start on the content first. It will lead to better and more effective signage and less headaches for everyone.