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Digital displays are used across all platforms for market businesses and their products. When you walk into a jewellery store, super market or your closest gym. You will find digital displays marketing products and incentives for clients and customers. Now why do you need a digital display you might wonder. Well there’s a simple answer to that question and it comes down to growth. You want your business to grow, put it in front of the clients so that they can decide. Let’s get started.


There is nothing to do in the waiting room at the dentist.

Think about the last time you were at the dentist.

Close your eyes and put yourself back in that waiting room. There were probably a few kids waiting impatiently with their parents. Heck, who blames them for being squirmy. That’s how we’re all feeling. Not only do we have to wait our turn in a silent waiting room, but we have to wait to get our teeth examined, drilled or even worse – removed.

The waiting room is not a pleasant place and one of the main reasons is because there is nothing to distract your attention. There are magazines and maybe even literature explaining the importance of not drinking soda pop or eating ice cream.

So what have dentist offices been doing to put their visitors in a more comfortable waiting room state?

Dentists have been adding digital displays to their waiting rooms. Sure, some dentists already have television monitors playing kids movies or maybe even the local news, but a digital display takes things to the next level. It’s good for the person sitting in the waiting room and it’s also good for the dentist.

You’ve probably seen a digital display before. It’s a monitor in a waiting room or office or restaurant. Any business with a physical location is a good candidate for a digital display. The display is typically larger than most TVs you’ll have in your home. The display is typically about 46 inches, but they can be bigger. Waiting rooms are typically larger than most living rooms so it’s important to have a large display.

The content on the digital display is what’s important. The monitors display interesting information for the patrons of the business and in this case for the people waiting in the dentist office.


Digital displays can be used to educate and entertain patients that are waiting.

If the dentist is looking to occupy the mind of the person waiting they can include items like live TV, weather updates, news feeds from the Web, and anything else that would be interesting to the customer that is patiently waiting.

What is really great for the dentist, though, is they can work in some of their own advertising into the digital display. Maybe there is a special on whitening this month. The display could include some information about whitening while encouraging the viewer to ask their hygienist about the service when their name is called.

There are many ways digital displays can be used by businesses that have physical locations. I’m sure your mind is already running through the possibilities.

The great thing for you is that these businesses need someone to create the content on the displays. It’s a great way for designers to increase revenue streams.

Here are some important steps for creating digital display designs.

Step 1 – Understand the Goal of the Display

The most important and first step for any design is understanding the goal. Work with your client to understand what they’re trying to accomplish with the display. They might see the display as simply a way to keep their customers occupied as they’re waiting. There is nothing wrong with this. It will probably cut down on the noise and annoyances in the waiting room and that creates a better work environment.


The goal of this restaurant display is to showcase the daily specials.

Other clients might want the display to be about increasing sales. If this is the case be sure you understand exactly what the client wants to sell. There is a good chance that what they want to sell today is different from what they want to sell in the future. That’s Ok. You can create the design so the item or service that is sold can be interchangeable.

Starting with the goal is important. Once you understand the goal the rest of the elements on the page will become secondary.

Step 2 – Design the Display the Same as a Website

Website design and digital display design share some basic elements. That’s what makes it an easy transition for most designers. You already understand how to create designs for computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. Moving to displays isn’t so bad.

You can create the mockup in your favorite design software. Photoshop is common and can be used here. The programming and development of the display is similar to website programming also. You can code the display using a content management system or platform designed specifically for digital display. It’s the same setup in many ways to the way websites are managed so there should be some familiarity.


Creating digital displays is similar to creating Website pages

Step 3 – Remove Clutter and Unnecessary Elements

The first important thing to remember is that it is not necessary to put as much on the display as possible. Designers are always fighting clutter. Sometimes you’re fighting yourself when it comes to clutter and other times you’re fighting the client. It’s easy to put all kinds of elements on the display. It makes us feel like we’re covering all our bases by including everything we can.


There is no extra clutter on this display. It’s all about the cafe items.

The opposite is really true. When we jam the page full of stuff we confuse the viewer and they end up taking no action, which is exactly what we don’t want.

This step gets back to the understanding the goal of the display. When there is an understanding of the goal you can always refer to it when considering a new element for the page.

There are lots of things you can include on digital displays:

  • Live TV
  • Live news feeds
  • Live Twitter and social media feeds
  • Social media icons
  • Stock tickers
  • Blog content
  • Weather feeds
  • Event information
  • Product or service information
  • Photos
  • Graphics
  • Video

There are really no limits to the stuff you can include on the display. It’s very possible to connect the display to the Internet. In fact, it should have Internet connection.

But it’s important not to get carried away. Discuss the goal of the display with the business owner. If they are pressuring you to add more elements to the page simply refer back to the goal.

If the goal is to sell more whitening services as is the case with the dentist example then maybe you don’t need to include the Facebook and Twitter icons on the page.

Step 4 – Remember that Displays are Bigger than Computers and Smartphones

The biggest change for designers is making the switch from computer screens and phone screens to large TV-sized monitors. And, you know, it might not even be that big of change. It’s kind of like creating a large printed banner or poster in a way. You want to make sure the elements on the page are large enough to be seen from the normal viewing area in the business location.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to work on a computer that has a large monitor. We all know those iMacs have like 36 inch screens these days. Take a step back from your screen as you work on the design and see how your eyes interact with the screen from across the room.

Are you able to understand the content on the page? Can you clearly see the inset TV screen or the photos of the products and services?


Yum…That pie looks delicious.

Step 5 – Remember the Call to Action

Think back to the goal of the digital display. If the goal is to get the viewer to take action then it’s necessary to include a call to action on the displays. It sounds easy, but it’s actually easy to overlook the call to action.

Remember in the example of the dentist that viewers were encouraged to ask their hygienist for information about teeth whitening. This was the call to action in that example. For a restaurant the call to action might be to upgrade to onion rings instead of fries with their main course. For an insurance agency the call to action might be to ask the person at the front desk for more information about bundled insurance packages that save money each month on the total premium.

There are lots of calls to action and they all relate back to the original goal of the display. Consider the goal of the display you’re working on and make sure the viewer can easily understand the next step they should take when they take their eyes off the display.


QR codes make great calls to action.

Discussion and Next Steps

Be sure to ask questions in the comments.

Maybe you’ve even worked with digital displays or digital signage already. Share your additional insights into how others can create successful designs for their clients.

At Rise Vision we’re seeing designers getting excited about the prospects of digital display. It’s a great way to increase revenue with existing clients and it can be an ongoing form of revenue since the content on the displays typically needs to be updated regularly.

So let’s discuss display and the next steps you can take to get started.

Image Credits: Dentist Office, Dentist Display, Restaurant Display, ING Direct Café, Indiana State Executive Express, Furrs Family Dining, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

About the Author: Todd Hemme is a Director at Rise Vision, a free digital signage Web platform. He has years of experience in the digital display industry including experience working with top designers and business leaders on their digital signage campaigns.

Website: Rise Vision
Twitter: @RiseVision

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