Judging the Success of Your Digital Signage Messages

Several clients have asked us how they can improve their digital signage messages and media. As you look at your creations, it’s important to judge not only the color or style, but to consider your overall communications objectives and how they are expressed.

Let’s go through the criteria we used to judge our Expression Awards, giving you a valuable guide to judge the effectiveness, design and creativity of your own content.

Communications Effectiveness

  • How well defined is/are the communication objective(s)?
    • Before you create anything, you need to determine some specific objectives for your message, video, etc. Your objective may be as simple as “increase attendance at this event”, or you may delve deeper to define more overarching goals, like “to increase attendance at this event by 25%, specifically targeting students from the Liberal Arts College in their first year.”
  • How thoroughly are results measured against objectives?
    • If you set a goal, you have to measure your success against it. Before you create anything, you need to define not just your goals, but how you plan to measure them. For example, if you are promoting a family day, simply thinking, “If people come, we were successful” will not give you any real measurement of your visual communications.
    • If you are using several methods of communication – email, printed flyers, digital signage, and text messages – then you need separate ROI measurements for each of those mediums. Surveys, click-through tracking and direct response measures (visits to a specific web page, presentation of a printed coupon, etc.) will give you more accurate and specific data than looking at overall results.
  • How well does the graphic or campaign meet the stated objective(s)?
    • Many times we hear of clients setting goals but never comparing those objectives to measurable data to judge their success. Once of the most basic ways of measuring the success of your messages is to ask your audience.
    • “How did you learn about this?” is the most basic, yet effective, way to find out how many people saw your message and were motivated to action by it.
  • How well does the design demonstrate an understanding of the target audience?
    • We all know that the visual tastes of college-aged students are vastly different than that of professionals over 40, and internal customers need to see different content than external audiences.
    • Consider the audience you are trying to reach and use colors, photos, icons, text sizes and language that excites them while working within their comfort zone.

Technical Design

  • How clearly are key messages or themes identified?
    • Don’t bury the lead. This is the cardinal rule of journalism and should be applied to your digital signage communications. Remember that you capture more attention at the beginning of a message than at the end. People also tend to scan messages for important information.
    • Make sure you use clear, concise headlines and don’t clutter your messages with unnecessary text or graphics. Keep it simple and clean. (Referring people to web pages set up for specific campaigns is a great way to keep your messages clean and to track ROI.)
  • How well does the design work in juxtaposition with other graphics?
    • Unless you are showing only one visual at one time, you need to consider how your creation will fit in with other screen elements. Many organizations display up to three windows of content, some playing animations and video, as well as a ticker, set on top of a layout design. Consider your content in relationship to other items on the screen when you are designing it.
    • Even if you are playing only one message or video at a time, consider the context of your display. If your screens are hung in the midst of banners and message boards, you need to consider the visual confusion that can result.
  • How appropriate are dimensions, resolution and format for digital signage delivery?
    • This is purely technical. Know the resolution that your creation will be displayed at and design to that spec. Stretching, crunching and distorting images can ruin a great design. Keep the quality high – don’t use exploded images that become fuzzy or pixilated.
    • Obviously, you want to use file formats that are supported by your content management software. Consider designing in those formats first, versus converting, to maintain quality and cut down on your workload.
  • How appropriate is the overall design for the digital signage medium?
    • Remember that digital signage is meant for messages, not movies. Keep animations and videos short and sweet. Your organization should set out policies for identity elements and what is considered “appropriate” content.


  • How well are elements arranged within the design, in terms of spacing and juxtaposition?
    • Remember that people often view your messages from a distance. Size and spacing of graphics and text within your content should be adjusted accordingly.
    • Again, stress important information with large text or visual cues that give your audience a clear understanding of the message you’re trying to convey at first glance.
  • How well does the design differentiate primary elements using clarity, visibility and focus?
    • Do you have text overlapping an image, which makes it harder to read? Is three quarters of the message taken up by a graphic with only small text to deliver your message?
    • Make sure that you use proportion and positioning to direct the eye to the important information.
  • How well are color, brightness and contrast used in the design?
    • Remember the rules of color and contrast at all times. Good contrast improves legibility and understanding how the human eye perceives color is paramount.
    • We don’t see all colors equally, and different combinations of color and brightness can help or harm your visual communications.
  • To what extent does the sample show creativity, imagination and innovation?
    • This is where you shine! Be creative and keep your messages fresh by incorporating new ideas and styles. Keep your imagination fresh by seeking out new styles, colors and designs: buy a book of creativity exercises, visit art galleries, look at award winning presentations and websites. You can’t stay sharp and fresh without inspiration.