5 Design Tips to Boost Viewer Engagement

EPISODE 136 | Guest: Ellyce Kelly, professional services consultant for Visix

Boost viewer engagement with these five easy content design tips: prioritize readability, design for the specific environment, maintain brand consistency, leverage storytelling and embrace interactivity.

In this episode, we give you practical advice to create compelling communications that make people put down their phones and pay attention to your digital signs. With a few tweaks to your messages, you can grab more attention, make more impact and boost ROI.

  • Think about how to design from the viewers’ perspective
  • Understand basic design principles for impact and understanding
  • Leverage storytelling and campaigns for more memorable messaging
  • Embrace interactive elements for both static displays and touchscreens
  • Learn the importance of testing, adjustment and measurement

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Get more content design tips in our free Digital Signage Design Guide.


Derek DeWitt: In today’s fast-paced world, capturing and retaining audience attention is critical, especially when it comes to a communications medium such as digital signage. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting products, or you’re just sharing information or even just kind of entertaining passersby, maximizing engagement is really the key to the success of any digital signage communication efforts. As we always say, we care about what we measure, so hopefully what you’re measuring is engagement. And we’re gonna give you five design tips to boost viewer engagement in this episode of Digital Signage Done Right. To that end, I am speaking today with Ellyce Kelly, professional services consultant for Visix. Hi Ellyce, welcome back to the podcast.

Ellyce Kelly: Thank you, Derek. How are you today?

Derek DeWitt: I’m pretty good. Excited to…I like engagement, I know this is certainly one of the things that you love, and I like thinking about all the different ways to try and engage people.

Ellyce Kelly: This is something I love. It’s true. I love engagement, and I love talking about it.

Derek DeWitt: Well, there you go. So, perfect match here on Digital Signage Done Right. Thank you everybody out there for listening to this episode. You can of course subscribe, and you can follow along with a transcript of the conversation we’re about to have on the Visix website under resources and podcasts.

When it comes to something like digital signage, engagement equals success, or at least it should. And I think for a lot of people, they think that just means if I put cool stuff up on the screens that’s enough. But that’s from the publisher’s point of view, or the content creator and scheduler’s point of view. What we wanna really focus on here is what engages viewers, people walking by. So, we have to kind of maybe do a little bit of a mental adjustment and design from the audience’s point of view.

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. So, you want them to stay there in front of those displays, and you want them to actually see what’s being shown, and you want them to take it in and do something about it. Think about that little magic rectangle in your hand all the time. Right? The phone. You’ve gotta get them to look away from that phone.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, that’s true. And if it’s an interactive screen or kiosk or something, you want them to interact with it.

Ellyce Kelly: We would love for them to interact with it.

Derek DeWitt: And of course, calls to action, as we always say, are important because it’s one way you can measure if people are actually interacting with your stuff. If they take whatever your call to action is, then you know that they didn’t just look at your screen and walk away, but they did something.

And the point of the messaging that you’re putting out there is usually, you might be trying to entertain, but very often you’re trying to motivate, or you’re trying to inform or educate people, right?

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. And I’m seeing more and more of our clients do this, putting calls to action in their content design. So, I know they must be listening to these podcasts and looking at all of our free resources on our website, which is great. And it makes me so happy when I see it, and I’m seeing some really nice content with call to action.

Derek DeWitt: Ah, that’s exciting. ‘Cause you know, I know one of the things we talk about is trying to, you know, hooks, ways to get people to pay attention to the screens, and thus they have the opportunity to engage with some of the content that’s interesting or relevant for them.

We sometimes talk about entertainment in some way, shape, or form – it’s a video, it’s a this, it’s a newsfeed, it’s a live stream of the news or traffic or whatever it is. But if there isn’t some way for them to engage, so really all you’re doing, you’re just, it’s just TV, you know?

Ellyce Kelly: Exactly. You’ve got to get compelling content because it is the foundation of effective digital signage. If you’re just putting stuff up there to put it up there, no one’s going to look at it. Gotta get their attention, and you have to retain their attention.

And that’s something a lot of folks think, you know, I think maybe they say, oh, we’ll just put this up here, and people will go and look at it and they’ll do whatever, or they’ll walk away. But you’ve gotta actually get them to remember what they saw, or at least give them something, a tool, like a QR code, and I know we’re gonna talk about that later, to get them to go to another site or to go take action somewhere else.

Derek DeWitt: Right. That’s exactly so. And that’s all especially true when we’re trying to inform or educate in some way, shape or form our audience. When we’re trying to motivate the viewers, this is really where we want to prompt a specific action, or we want to change behavior in some way.

Ellyce Kelly: Yes, absolutely. And that’s exactly where the call to action comes in.

Derek DeWitt: And, you know, we actually have a whole episode of the podcast in the past on calls to action. And there’s a link to that in the transcript. So, just follow along in the transcript, click that link if you want to know more about calls to action.

Now, moving on, when you’re designing content for, and it doesn’t really matter what – corporate offices, public spaces, retail displays – it doesn’t really matter where or what kind of environment you have, the effectiveness of your message really does rely on how visually appealing it is and how relevant it is to that audience.

Ellyce Kelly: Agree. Yes. And you’ve got to use eye-catching graphics, vibrant colors, and you’ve gotta be concise. You cannot put all of this text up on the screen. You just can’t because no one’s gonna read it.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, yeah. Back in the old days, I know that there were some clients, we’re not gonna say who, who would like, oh, well let’s put up the PDF for this, you know, thing on the digital sign. It’s like, man, nobody…first off, it’s only being displayed for 7 to 10 seconds. So like, nobody has time to read that. Wait, oh, I only caught the first paragraph, and I’m gonna wait for it to come back around in the playlist, which could take a while, so I can read the next section. It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s real short, punchy, bam, bam, bam. You gotta draw them in with the beauty or sort of the design elements of the content. And the message has to, it has to be important to them or else why would they care?

Ellyce Kelly: Exactly. I agree.

Derek DeWitt: Now, I think in order to do that, you’re really, more images than text, generally speaking, I think, yeah?

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. And if you think about social media, you’re not reading, you know, pages and pages on social media, especially if you, you know, think about TikTok or Instagram or something where you’re just swiping up, you’re not gonna read a lot of text. Something’s gotta get your attention with visuals or video or, you know, whether it’s a cat or whatever it is, or a SpaceX launch, whatever’s happening, you’re not gonna read a lot of text. You just wanna see it, and then you either stay interested or you keep moving.

And that’s really very similar with digital signage. It’s all digital, right? So, we’ve gotta get you away from your phone, and we’ve gotta keep your attention on the digital signage. But if you put a lot of text up there, forget it. No one’s gonna look at that. It’s gotta be, like you said, very concise, very quick and that’s it.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. And as I said, if it isn’t relevant to them, they’re not gonna engage with it. You know, why would you put, say in a corporate headquarters or a corporate hub, on the floor where the accountants are, why would you give information to them that isn’t about accounting or, you know, something that is important to them as members of that employment community. You know, oh, by the way, the garage is open 6 to 12, you know, it doesn’t matter to the accountants, you know? And we have talked about that in the past as well. And at this stage in the transcript, there’s another link.

So, when we’re designing this stuff with viewer engagement in mind, the first thing we have to do is, I think, is we have to know who it is we’re communicating with. We have to understand the target audience.

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. Like you just said, the accounting department is not going to be interested in certain things. You’ve got to know your audience. If you don’t know your audience, then why are you wasting time making content? Who are you making it for? To say, oh, look, I did this, check this off my list? And I get a lot of folks, a lot of HR, a lot of communications folks, a lot of marketing folks, this gets added to their plate. But the great thing is, they’re really good at communicating. So, that helps, right?

Derek DeWitt: The way I often try and explain it to people is try and imagine you’ve got something you’ve gotta get across. I don’t know, let’s just say it’s a fire drill or an emergency evacuation plan at a school, 12th graders and 1st graders. Well, you’re not gonna use the exact same language to talk to both groups. In English as a Foreign Language teaching, we call it grading your language, adjusting your language to the level of the person listening to you. It’s really the same thing.

And we’re not talking about dumbing things down, we’re just saying really know who your people are. So for example, I know there’s been a lot of talk out there about different generations and so on, but it’s, to a certain extent, it’s true. Like if you’ve got an audience of Millennials, you’re not gonna use the exact same kind of design scheme that you would for Boomers or for Gen Xers, right?

Ellyce Kelly: Correct. Yes. And I believe we have something on that on our resources as well.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Millennials like cleaner, more modern, more minimalist kind of designs, you know. Someone who’s older, something that’s a little more traditional is gonna get, because they’ve been trained through, you know, decades of experience, when something kinda looks like this, it’s official. But for younger people, because that’s no longer really the design aesthetic, they don’t need those design triggers in order to go, oh, it’s official, because they know it’s official from the content.

Ellyce Kelly: Exactly. And also, definitely don’t interpret the older demographic, a more classic and traditional design does not mean more text. Just wanted to clarify that, you know, because I might be part of that older demographic.

Derek DeWitt: Yes. Well, yes, indeed, yes. And of course, digital signage is not just, you know, pictures. It’s dynamic. You should use that to your advantage, right?

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. So, static content, it can become very stale, very ineffective, because you’re not going to capture the viewer’s attention. So, you can keep your content dynamic. You can incorporate motion graphics, videos, animations, and of course interactive elements whenever possible. We love that.

And of course, adding movement or interactivity can actually help that you draw in the viewers, and you can encourage them to engage more with your message. That’s why interactive displays obviously are becoming more and more common, whereas they didn’t used to be. But I’m seeing a lot more of them now, which is great because you can have somebody engage with that content, and that does get them to stick around a little longer.

But you’ve still gotta be concise in your messaging and make sure that you’re helping them get what they need, right? Especially if it’s interactive, wayfinding, you know, trying to find where they’re going in a building or on campus. So, you still have to have some interesting content up there to even to get them to notice the display in the first place, so that they can go, oh, maybe this will tell me where I need to go, or whatever it is you’re promoting.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, I mean, I think of it like…myself; I don’t just do this stuff, I am also an audience from time to time. I go into a particular place and, and I’ll admit having some way to interact, it does attract me. It makes me go, oh, maybe I could just go play with that for a couple seconds. And in the meantime, while I’m doing that, I am actually getting exposed to the messaging.

Ellyce Kelly: Yep. Happens to me all the time too, in our own headquarters. And also, when I go to the doctor or go to the airport or wherever it is, I’m going, there’s digital signage, it’s everywhere,

Derek DeWitt: Right. If there’s nothing for me to do, I can’t do anything. All right, so let’s get to these five design tips to help digital signage content creators engage viewers in a more effective way. We’re gonna go through these one at a time. So, the first tip is prioritize readability. And this, I think, really this is just sticking to basic design principles.

Ellyce Kelly: Yes, it’s pretty easy. So just make sure that it’s, your content is legible from a distance in varying lighting conditions. And make sure that you choose fonts that are clear, and don’t go with those overly fancy, intricate, crazy fonts that frankly don’t look good on paper or on digital displays, right?

Derek DeWitt: Gothic script where you’re like, is that a G or a 6 or, I don’t know what that is!

Ellyce Kelly: That’s the thing. If you can’t read it, it’s, it’s over, right? You’ve lost them.

So, make sure also you have good contrast between text and background colors, because that will enhance visibility. And I do see that on occasion where, you know, you might have a really light kind of background behind your text and then you have a really light text. I can’t read that from, well, first of all, I’m gonna need my reading glasses anyway probably, but I can’t read that from a distance. And if I can’t even read it up close, then again, you’ve lost me.

And then the other thing too, make sure your content is logical and intuitive. You wanna make sure that it’s got a hierarchy, right? So, you start with this to get my attention, and then you tell me to do this so that I go to the call to action, and then later I can say, oh, I need to sign up for that. So just make sure there’s logic to your text.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. It’s not a one and done kind of a thing. As we often say, this whole thing is an ongoing process. You probably want to go out there and conduct tests. You create your designs, toss them up on a digital sign when, you know, after hours or when traffic is light, and look for yourself. Is it readable from a distance? Is it readable from different viewing angles? Does this particular screen get glare during a certain part of the day? If so, for how long? This way you can make sure that your message is accessible to the most viewers for most of the time.

And the other thing to keep in mind, I think people often forget about this, unless they themselves, this is relevant to them personally, is don’t forget about colorblind people and don’t forget about ADA guidelines, which probably you have to follow, you know, by law.

Ellyce Kelly: Yes, absolutely. And I love what you just said. You said you’ve got to conduct tests. You do. Ask your coworkers, ask students if you’re on a campus, if they happen to be walking by when you’re out there looking at it yourself. And try a couple of different versions maybe of the same content. You’ve got to get feedback. Whoever’s around that you can ask, just say, What do you think? Like in front of the, not on your computer, in front of the sign that it’s going on, whatever display it’s going on, that’s where you need to be to conduct those tests.

Derek DeWitt: And that ties into design tip number two, which is designing for the viewing environment, which means the specific situation that each digital sign or screen is in.

Ellyce Kelly: Yes. You just, you nailed it, too, a minute ago when you said lighting and, you know, is their glare on this display? That plays into it. It’s important. Plus screen size, you know, aspect ratio. How far away is the audience when they first start seeing this content? And then again, like what you said before, ambient lighting, what are the conditions like in the area of that display?

And I used to see that really quite often, I would say years ago. I think folks are much better about thinking about and planning for that before even the displays go up. Which is great. But, you know, sometimes you’re gonna have a display that was maybe put up years ago and maybe you didn’t have a say in it, ’cause you already knew we would’ve looked for this. So you have to work around that.

That’s very important when you’re designing. And you have to adjust, you know, the composition of your designs to make sure that you are going to get optimal visibility and impact. So, don’t take a wide video and throw it into a tall, you know, display. It’s gonna look terrible.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And don’t, and I have seen this, I’m gonna just say this, don’t take a landscape picture or video and then, if some of your signs are portrait orientation, don’t just turn it on its side, ’cause it looks amateurish.

And you know, something I think, too, people don’t think about is you have to be careful about visual clutter. No one’s going to this specific location, regardless of where it is, to go look at the digital signs.

So, the digital signs have to be enticing, and they have to be clean enough and bold enough to draw them in. If you’ve got a whole bunch of stuff, you know, if there’s a bookcase with all the book spines of different colors and plants and a shelf for toys, ’cause you’re a hospital waiting room, and stuff for the kids, and then you have this tiny little digital sign sort of stuck in there in all of that clutter, people aren’t gonna notice it.

Ellyce Kelly: I believe I’ve heard you refer to that as visual noise. And you’ve got to take that into account and then maybe just make sure your designs are minimalistic when you’re in that type of visual noise environment.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Or perhaps maybe move that screen, is the other.

Ellyce Kelly: Well, that would be ideal. I have had clients move displays in waiting areas. They’re like, you know what, this is just not gonna work. And it might be a slight shift. It might be, you know, 10 feet or five feet and it makes all the difference in the world, so.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And like what we were saying, you are gonna have different display sizes or maybe the displays are sometimes at different orientations. Or even more and more, sometimes that same content’s going onto the intranet or, or even is, mobile phone friendly, you know, using HTML5 readers and things like this. So, you do have to kind of make sure that you’ve optimized for readability across all these different screen types and screen sizes.

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. Yep. That’s a great point.

Derek DeWitt: What’s the best way to do that? I always thought that, let’s say I’ve got, I don’t know, five different sizes of screen that I’m designing for, should I start with the smallest one first or the biggest one first?

Ellyce Kelly: Start with the smallest one first. You’re absolutely right. And then go bigger. And, you know, if you can create multiple versions of the design, then you can take advantage of whatever real estate you have on that display. That’s, you know, a good designer’s always thinking about the endpoint, where the content’s going. You’re right though, start with the smallest screen and then go bigger.

Derek DeWitt: Right. So, number three is maintaining brand consistency, something we talk about a bunch, you know, the brand colors and the brand logo and all that stuff, somewhere on the screen or in the message.

But, you know, I have to wonder though, sometimes a lot of companies especially, yeah, I dunno, financial institutions and things like this, and I’m not dogging on their color schemes per se, I’m just saying they’re not always the most eye-catching color palette, you know? Like, I mean, I know you wanna be consistent with your brand colors and things, but you also want stuff to be eye catching and pop. How does one blend those two goals?

Ellyce Kelly: Well, hopefully you can blend both goals. But I mean, big secret, I would choose the more engaging design over less effective branded content.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Right. Yeah. Like I’m thinking of, I literally saw this not long ago, it wasn’t a digital sign, it was on the web, but it’s the same idea. It was a horror film fest promotion for a college campus. But the college campus used all these pastels, these really soft sort of cheerful pastels that reminds one of candy. And I was like, hmm, I just don’t, I see a mismatch here between the colors and the content.

Ellyce Kelly: Okay. Earlier I said, no crazy fonts, but for the horror film fest, I’m gonna give you a pass and you can use what is it Scary or Goth? Okay, as long as I can still read it. But you know, if there’s blood dripping down the, okay. I’m not a horror film person, but yeah, that pastel colors, I can tell you right now, that was not a good route to go.

I mean, if you can maintain the brand consistency, you should. Nobody wants to get in trouble, you know? They don’t wanna show up on the marketing radar, and like, oh, we’re coming! Consistency is the key to brand recognition, right? I mean, you know, and you wanna foster trust with your audience, and you also wanna make sure that you’re aligning with, you know, just your visual identity as a brand. And that just means using consistent colors and fonts.

And I mean, we do it at Visix, right? I mean, I know exactly where our brand guidelines are and, you know, where the fonts are and the logos and we all follow it. Because we don’t want anything to look out of place. And it’s important to us that people recognize our brand. It’s important to every brand that they’re recognized for who they are. And that’s how you get folks to remember you and say, huh, I need some digital signage, uh, software. Who do I go, oh, Visix, right? You know, so it is important, but you’ve still gotta get the message to stand out, and you still have to, you know, capture your audience’s attention. And so, if it’s a horror film fest, then yeah, I’m gonna give you a pass on that and say get creative.

Derek DeWitt: I, again though, now that I’m thinking about it, like to a certain extent, it’s actually, yes, it’s a little bit of work on your end as the content creator and designer, but it shouldn’t be that hard to find colors, fonts, layouts, visual elements and so on, pictures that kind of can do both. All right maybe you don’t have orange and blood red as part of your particular brand’s color palette, but you can find orange-ish and red-ish things that don’t at least clash too much, that aren’t too far off from your normal color choices.

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. And you know what, it goes back to getting other folks’ opinion. Get some feedback. You know, if you’re not the marketing department, or even if you are, maybe you go to some other folks on your team or other departments and say, hey, what do you think of this? Do you think this looks good? Would this get your attention? You know, or better yet, schedule it and then go get some feedback on the display that you’re going to show it on. Just get some feedback from other folks, but also, again, try to stay off the marketing radar.

Derek DeWitt: Well, and the other question to ask there would be, does this look like we made this, or does this look like some outside, you know, uh, agency came up with this? Like, if you saw this on our digital signage, would it jump out as weird or would you go, Oh yeah, no, that’s us?

Ellyce Kelly: Right? Or would it jump out as good weird?

Derek DeWitt: Right. Good weird is good. We don’t mind that.

Ellyce Kelly: Good weird is good! It is absolutely, yeah, we don’t mind that at all. ‘Cause you looked up from your phone.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, right. Exactly.

So, now number four, we kinda change gears here with number four. And in the past, we’ve talked quite a bit about incorporating storytelling elements into content. And the reason I bring this up at this point is I think brands lend themselves to this. ‘Cause they already have a story to a certain extent and a style and, and some go further and even have, you know, I don’t know, a mascot or a character or something like that. So, turning messages into a story is, I know it’s a little bit more work, but it can be more memorable and thus more engaging.

Ellyce Kelly: You’re absolutely right. People love stories. Again, I go back to social media, but you see a story that’s compelling and interesting and you’re like, ahhhh, warms your heart, or whatever it is. And they, maybe they have a link like, hey, donate to this, you know, cat fund, whatever it is, doesn’t matter. And you think, oh yes, I want to do that. Or maybe it’s, you know, victims of a tornado, whatever it is, you wanna donate, they raise money. That’s effective signage, right? That’s reaching the audience that I need and raising money or whatever it is I’m trying to do.

You know, your marketing and communications folks already have a whole bunch of assets that you can draw from. And especially if they have a character or something that you can use that can really raise, like, viewer engagement, then you’re gonna have more success with your storytelling and whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish from that storytelling.

Again, you’ve gotta be very concise in how you’re telling it. And maybe it’s teasers, right? Maybe you start with this little piece, and then you give this little piece, and you’re basically dangling the carrot, right? Like, hmm, are you still interested?

Derek DeWitt: So, you’re talking, like, in multiple messages.

Ellyce Kelly: Yes, multiple messages. It’s like a whole, you make it into a whole campaign, but you don’t drop it all day one.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, that’s true. That’s certainly one way to do it. I mean, I always think about this, how narratives are just so much more memorable. It’s just kind of how we’re hardwired. And when I think about this, so for example, we’re all exposed to a whole bunch of different stuff throughout our lives and, very often, tons and tons of facts and how often you’ve been sitting around with friends or family and you know, people say, oh, I read this fact, I thought it was really interesting. But then you can’t recall the specifics of the facts. Was it 62% or was it 70% or whatever? And yet, tell me a joke once that I laugh at, which is engagement, and I will remember that joke for years, you know?

Ellyce Kelly: I do that all the time though. I’m like, how, what was the percentage again? And then I have to go look it up. It’s terrible.

Derek DeWitt: Right. But a joke or an anecdote or, you know, so there’s a story my friend tells from time to time, that you remember because you’ve been engaged with it.

And then when you’re talking about telling a story, I think one way you can do it obviously is like you said, through multiple, over time, multiple messages. You know, boom, boom, whatever, hey, we’re following a piece of recycling from, you know, the shop to, here in the office, to the recycling bin, to the recycling center, however you want to do that.

But there are also very concise ways, and in this way, this kind of communication almost resembles advertising. I’m old enough to remember in the 70s, there was an ad on television that was very simple. The message was don’t litter. That was the message. And it’s short, 20 seconds. And it shows an American Indian looking out at the land, and it’s all very beautiful because we sort of mythologize the American Indians. And then he turns, and he sees all this litter and he turns to the camera and a single tear goes down his face. That’s a story.

Ellyce Kelly: Absolutely. I think I remember that. I was like, oh, I’m getting a visual of this.

Derek DeWitt: Right. You know, like people would say, hey, don’t make that guy cry. Now the fact that we’re culturally appropriating Native Americans, that’s problematic. The fact that the actor who was employed in that was not in fact a Native American at all, but was a Sicilian actor who looked more like what the dominant culture thought Native Americans should look like. All that’s beside the point. The point here is, is that in one brief moment, they managed to communicate a story.

And then when it comes to things like mascots and characters, around the same time, growing up in California at least where wildfires were a big problem even back then, Smokey Bear told us, only you can prevent forest fires. And we as kids would go, hey, you know, we want to be part of Smokey’s club and Smokey’s gang, and I like Smokey, and he said, don’t do this, so we’re not gonna do it. And it worked. I didn’t set any major fires in California, so, you know.

Ellyce Kelly: I didn’t either!

Derek DeWitt: And all of this is, I mean, this is a kind of an interaction. I know when we’re talking about interactive things, we’re often talking about touchscreens and maybe, now, we’re also using QR codes to drive people to other online locations using their phones. But this is also a kind of an interactivity and it’s almost like an internalized interactivity.

But externalized interactivity is also a very quick way to get people to hang around longer, get exposed to your messaging for a longer period of time, and gives you some sort of right then and there ROI. Did they take this call to action? Did they touch the screen? Did they do all this? And that’s why whenever possible, the fifth design tip is to embrace those interactive elements.

Now, first off, not everybody has a touchscreen, I get it. But you should maybe think about getting at least a couple. The price point has come way, way down. They’re much more affordable than they used to be. So, you probably have noticed, in fact, if you don’t have interactive screens, that you have to clean the fingerprints off them from time to time because people touch them, assuming they must be. That’s how ubiquitous those screens have become.

Ellyce Kelly: I was going to say, people expect them. I expect them. I mean, I think that a lot of people do, and I see people doing it quite a bit. I’ve seen people even do it in our own office.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And people are always a little disappointed. They’re always like, you know, you see it, bup, bup, oh, this is, it’s a dummy screen. [Sigh] Well, I wonder, what does it say? I’m already getting bored.

Ellyce Kelly: Right, I’m already bored. I mean, again, especially younger audience, it’s gonna happen. So, if you do have touchscreens, you are going to attract more viewers. They’re going to interact with your signage longer. Research has been done on this. It’s just a proven fact. They’ll stick around longer; they’ll interact with it.

And you know, not all interactive elements have to be on touchscreens. You can put QR codes, you know, into a message. And I’m seeing, again, I’m seeing so much more of this, which just makes me so happy when I see that. But I’m seeing a lot more of our clients do that. I know we’ve been talking about it for years, the QR code, but I’m seeing more and more folks do it. And it is just so easy to make them, and it’s just, I know I’m going off about this, they’re easy. They’re so simple to do and they work.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, they do work and they’re actually better than a short URL because, I mean, even if I take a picture with my phone of the short URL, I have to remember that it’s there. And then eventually I’m gonna have to get to a computer. I’m gonna have to type it in. And here’s the thing. If I’m gonna take out my phone and take a picture of the URL, well, why don’t I just take out my phone and scan the QR code, you know?

Ellyce Kelly: I’m done with URLs, and I’ve told folks, I’m like, don’t do that.

Derek DeWitt: I will say this, caution, however, make sure, because recently I’ve had this happen where I go, oh, I’ll scan the QR code, ’cause I’m interested in this particular thing that this digital sign or this static sign is talking about, but then it doesn’t take me to the right webpage. You know, so like maybe it’s like, use our easy online form to sign up now, QR code. That QR code should take me to the form, not your company homepage. And then I have to tap around and look for the form. ‘Cause I’m not gonna do it. So, it needs to be a targeted URL that’s embedded in that QR code.

Ellyce Kelly: That’s a great point. Absolutely, yes. Don’t redirect me to a homepage. Take me to the form. You’re 1000% correct on that.

Derek DeWitt: Right? Or don’t take me to the wrong page.

Ellyce Kelly: Yeah. Oh yeah, definitely don’t do that either. Don’t take me. Yeah, but I mean, I don’t wanna go to a page where I’m gonna have to look for it. Forget that you. You already lost me at that point. So, you’re correct.

And you’ve got, again, if you make the QR code, let’s test it. Go and put it in your message, put it on the display. Go to the display, scan it as if you were a regular audience person walking by and make sure that it takes, you know, takes them where they need to go. Because otherwise that’s bad design.

Derek DeWitt: Right. Exactly. That’d be a little bit like saying, hey, if you have more questions, ask Bob, but nobody named Bob works there. We do have a blog about creating QR codes which is quite useful. There are actually, there aren’t tricks to it. It’s super straightforward, but there are some, sort of, extra little things that you can do.

QR codes are much more than just a quick way to get a link out there. You can figure out different ways to incorporate them into design elements. You can have a QR code that is static and never changes, and yet the URL it points to can change, sort of behind the scenes, under the hood. Things like this. So, check out that blog as well – link at this point in the transcript.

Ellyce Kelly: I send that blog link quite a bit.

Derek DeWitt: Really?

Ellyce Kelly: Oh yeah. Very helpful. Folks love it. Our clients love it.

Derek DeWitt: Well, I’m glad to hear that they’ve certainly become more and more useful in North America. Obviously here in Europe, they’ve been using QR codes for ages. And I began to despair. Are the Americans ever going adopt this? And then the pandemic came and suddenly it was like, oh, hey, there’s this readymade solution. Don’t touch a menu at the bar or the restaurant, when they finally reopened, we’ll just use QR codes. And then everybody got used to it and went, eh, these are actually super easy to use.

Ellyce Kelly: I did not think we were gonna catch on over here in North America either until the pandemic. And then I said, ah, finally, there we go.

Derek DeWitt: So you know, a little bit of a silver lining to those terrible, terrible days. And as we’ve said, any call to action, especially QR codes, like, the analytics are already built in. How many people went to that webpage? If you really, really, really wanna be super targeted in your analytics, create a special webpage that isn’t naturally part of your website, that’s just attached to that QR code. And so that way all of the traffic to that webpage came from that QR code because there’s no other way to access it.

Ellyce Kelly: Yep. You’re absolutely correct, Derek. You have to keep measuring, you have to keep adjusting and tweaking, and you’ve gotta keep improving, keep reaching for the stars.

Derek DeWitt: Ah, very nice. Keep reaching for the stars and they will reach for you.

So, to boost viewer engagement, obviously you need compelling digital signage content. This of course requires a pretty deep understanding of your audience and adherence to good digital design principles, as well as thoughtful optimization for the viewing environment. And lots of other ways to get people to not only interact in some way, shape or form with your messaging, whether that’s doing what you ask them to do or, or just remembering it, but talking about it and just kind of making it part of their experience, interacting with your company, with your school, with your hospital, with your brand, whatever.

By following the five tips that we covered today, and to reiterate them, they are: prioritize readability, design for the specific viewing environment the digital signs are in, maintain brand consistency, leverage storytelling techniques and ideas, and embrace interactive elements. If you do these things, you will create more impactful content that will captivate your audiences, drive action, and ultimately achieve your communication goals.

Ellyce Kelly: You are so great at all of these things. I really think you are. I could not have said that you said that so eloquently. It’s perfect.

Derek DeWitt: Thank you, thank you very much. Well, I’d like to thank my guest, Ellyce Kelly. She is a professional services consultant for Visix, talking to me today about these design tips to boost viewer engagement. And it warms my heart to hear that you’re seeing more and more of our clients using these very same principles and tips that we just talked about.

Ellyce Kelly: And it warms my heart, too. I get giddy when I see this, and they probably think I’m crazy. I’m like, oh, I love this!

Derek DeWitt: They’re like, man, that woman loves communications!

Ellyce Kelly: Yeah, she really loves her job. I do love my job. But I love it when they are taking all of the resources and the information that we, ’cause we’ve done so much research on this and really put a lot of time and effort into it, especially you and our marketing team. I just, it makes me so happy because the, and then they’re seeing results. They’re like, oh, we have record sign up for, you know, this event and it just makes you so happy to hear that it’s working. ‘Cause this is an investment. We want them to get a return on that investment and engagement on those displays, so….

Derek DeWitt: Absolutely so. All right, well thank you Ellyce for talking to me today. Thank you everybody out there for listening. And again, I remind you there is a transcript of the conversation we just had, with links, on the Visix website under resources and podcasts.