Improve Your Digital Signage by Lurking

You can improve your digital signage with an easy experiment. Go to one of your displays during a high traffic period, and watch what people do. Make a note of people’s behavior as they pass, and what’s on the screen at that moment. Repeat a few times. Then look at your observation results and think about what it all means.

Something similar is used in education, called Partial Interval Recording. This is a method to see quickly a certain behavior is or is not occurring. For you, that behavior is whether people are looking at your displays or not. As they pass by, are they looking at your screens, or are they on their phone, or looking at the floor, or talking to someone?

Pay attention to when people look. What do you think catches their eye and grabs their attention? Did they seem to suddenly notice the screen? What was on the screen at that moment that made them look? Was it a graphic, a certain background or a particular color scheme?

Various studies tell us that images grab attention more than text. Was there an image on the display that attracted them? Designers often say that high contrast message designs are easier to read and more noticeable – was there one on the screen when people looked?

Was there video that made them look? Movement often draws the eye. Or, if you’re using sound, was it something they heard that attracted them?

If they were already looking for the display as they approached, that probably means they’ve become used to getting certain information from that display as they pass – time, weather, news, traffic information, etc. If you have a design scheme that uses certain background colors for certain types of messages (for example, blue backgrounds for internal information, green backgrounds for environmental messages, orange backgrounds for social events), they may have learned this system and looked because they knew there might be something interesting for them.

Do they slow down or even stop to give what they see more attention? If so, what is happening at that exact moment that made them do so? If there’s a call to action, like a QR tag to scan, or if you are using interactive screens, are people scanning or interacting?

By making repeated observations, you might be able to determine what’s getting people interested in your digital signage and exposing them to your content. You’ll see what you’re doing right.

Not Looking
Why not? It could be design – too many similar elements in message after message may be uninteresting. Try varying the look of successive messages and see if that improves audience attention. If there’s too much text on the screen, people won’t pay attention. Use the 3×5 rule to create clear, concise messages.

It could be how long each message is on screen. Are the messages up too long, so they just seem like part of the background? Or are they shown for too short a time, making it difficult to take in the content?

It could be stale content. The same old information that’s been up for ages will just be phased out by people as they pass. Even if the message is still relevant (like, “Don’t forget to wash your hands”), keep the look fresh by changing things slightly from time to time – alter the layout, add an image or change the image, change the background color, etc.

It could even be the location of your displays. If they are up too high, they will not be noticed. If they are against a window the sun shines through during a high traffic time, people might not want to look into the glare to see your content.

If they aren’t looking at your displays, what are they doing? Think about how you can distract them from that activity and get them interested in your messages.

Most likely, you will have some messages get attention, while others don’t. Create a list of best practices based on messages people look at, and adjust those that people don’t to meet those standards

Digital signage is a dynamic medium, and that means making frequent small adjustments to get the maximum impact and the widest audience for the messages you display. Just a few minutes, a couple of times a week, should give you enough information to help you tweak your digital signage for maximum impact.