There’s a saying that basically says that if something is free, then you’re the product. This probably came from a short video made in the 70s by the artists Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman about television but has been used by many people since. Today, the internet offers lots and lots of information of all kinds for free. So, it’s natural that a business would also start looking for something like free digital signage software. They might look for something that sits on a computer, a web-based system that uses a web browser, a cloud-based system that keeps the content management software and the content on a server somewhere else. They might think about open source digital signage or device management systems to control media players and digital signs. And it’s certainly possible to find lots and lots of free digital signage webpages out there.
But it isn’t really “free”. Maybe the most basic version costs nothing, but almost no one will find that this version of the software will do everything they want. Features that add more capabilities will cost, as will support (or there might be a sliding scale for support, with a more responsive support team costing more money).
Free digital signage systems almost always use cloud storage and are browser-based, so that’s something else to think about. Can the software run on your operating system, or will you need to upgrade that first (which will probably cost a bit)? Can you power remote screens or are you stuck on local networks? Can the simple software systems pull data from your business systems and calendars?
And then there’s the hardware, of course – screens, media players and so on. Will they have device management or just be “dumb” equipment? And really, do you want to rely on an open source edition of software that uses a community to develop and maintain features and bug fixes?
Then there’s the electronic and digital infrastructure. As Dave Haynes of Sixteen:Nine wrote back in 2015, “no network is free”. And almost no free solutions allow for powerful interactive digital signage options, like menu boards and donor boards.
There are many things to think about while shopping for digital signage. For a really basic, single screen system, going the free route might work out. But for pretty much anything else, the costs are going to add up in the long run, and very probably end up costing more than a well-rounded, more comprehensive system would. After all, this is something that you are going to use a lot, and for a long time, so it’s important to think about everything before buying anything. We’ve actually written about this for the Sixteen:Nine website – a comparison of different digital signage software options and a basic digital signage shopping guide.
When trying to choose which company you want to use, you want to look at all these things. But you also want to think about how well the company knows what they’re doing. Are they experts? Do they have a good training program? What about other resources to help guide you as you learn how to best use the digital signs in your environment? Because every deployment is different.
What would you say about a company that offers scores of blogs on how to use digital signage, as well as dozens of podcasts, videos and other resources? And all that expert advice is free. You might think that they know what they’re talking about.
That’s Visix. We’ve been in the digital signage business for 20 years, and we’re about much more than just software development. During that time, we’ve written hundreds of blogs giving advice on just about every topic you can think of: best practices, employee communications, content ideas and resources, start-up tips, image advice, how to take photos for digital signage, writing advice, how to create memorable campaigns, how to measure ROI, how to incorporate interactive digital signage features, how to use KPIs, consideration for alert notifications, how to integrate live data sources, the pros and cons of video walls – the list goes on and on.
In addition to blogs written for our own library, our experts have written over 100 blogs for other websites, and that number is growing since we are regular contributors to websites such as Sixteen:Nine, Digital Signage Today and TechDecisions. All told, we have written somewhere approaching half a million words of digital signage advice in blogs alone.
Many people like to see how others are using the products they are considering. We have more than 80 case studies showing some of the different ways that clients have used Visix digital signage software in many environments and for many purposes.
We also have nearly 50 easy-to-read infographics that give important highlights at a glance. We also have over 50 videos with practical advice like content tips, space management, interactive ideas, gamification and more. And most of those are under 90 seconds long!
For more in-depth advice, we have 30+ white papers for various markets, as well as topics such as crisis planning and CAP alerts, how to use metrics to motivate, how to make sure your digital signage is great from day one, student-centered digital signage and more. We’ve also produced 10 guides, including a digital signage buying guide, a digital signage pricing guide, networking guides, a digital signage best practices guide, an internal communications guide, and our four-part Masterclass series that takes you through the all stages of system and communications planning through content and design for digital signage.
And then there’s our podcast, called Digital Signage Done Right. This comes out every other Tuesday, and features advice and interviews with experts on how to use, and not to use, digital signs to the fullest. Combining real-world examples and years of experience, these podcasts are full of useful insights and inspiring ideas, and are on average an easy 25-minutes long.
The best part is that all these resources are accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time, for free. Many years ago, we decided that one of our main goals was to help people communicate better, and we hope our ever-growing library of blogs, podcasts, videos and more helps us accomplish that.
We’re turning 40 years old in 2020, and we’ve been looking back at everything we’ve done in that time. We’re proud of the library of free digital signage resources we have created to help any organization – no matter how large or small, no matter if they’re our client or not – to communicate better and use digital signage to its fullest potential. And we’ll continue to do so for the next 40 years: This is what we believe in.
The best free digital signage software resources and support can be more important to think about than free digital signage software. Maybe instead of focusing on the technology, think about what a company offers you in terms of expertise and mindset. If time is money, do they save you time? Do they really want you to be at your best?
We know how we’d answer those questions: Yes, we do. After all, digital signage isn’t about technology, it’s about communications. We’re here to help you communicate better.