Digital Signage Content Tip: Use Icon Systems

We’ve written before about color-coding your content. Digital signage icons are another way to help your audience recognize their favorite information quickly and easily.

Icons communicate ideas, meaning and function in a common visual language. People are well-tuned to icons because they’re so common in everyday life – from exit and restroom signs to applications on our smartphones.

Using digital signage icons in your layouts or content can improve the audience experience by directing them to what they want to see faster. Consider using icons for common posts or feeds like news, weather, events, RSS and social media. After a little time, people will see the icon and instantly know what they’re reading.

Another tip is to standardize your layout so that digital signage icons and their related content are always in the same place (e.g. weather, news and events are always on the right side). The goal is to lead the reader to the information quickly. Consistency is important so viewers don’t have to check different parts of the screen for the information they want each time they check the screen.

If you’re developing touchscreen content, icons will play an important part. Basic icon systems and legends are part of every interactive wayfinding map, directory and POS kiosk because they convey a complex idea in a small space (a silhouette of a head and shoulders means “touch here to browse a list of people”).

It’s fine to want to be creative – but you don’t need to come up with new, fun icons just for the heck of it. Common ideas already have established, recognized icons, and you should use those as often as possible.

There are lots of free or cheap icon sets already available through online vendors, so you don’t need to create your own. With a quick Google search, you can find nearly any icon you need. Shutterstock is one of our favorite resources, with a monthly subscription that can’t be beat.