Current Trends in Digital Signage Design

Taste is a funny thing – it’s an abstract and somewhat subjective quality. Yet designers have to take that and turn it into concrete things people see and interact with. Some heavy hitters, such as Microsoft and Apple, set current standards just by putting out the products they do. Here are some current trends that can help with your digital signage design:

Content Design Trends

  • Form always follows function. This is especially true in interactive design.
  • Flat and semi-flat design is on the rise this year, as is minimalist design.
  • Present simple icons and icon systems instead of lots of text.
  • Geometric shapes, especially circles and rounded shapes are popular.
  • Draw attention with fonts and images that seem hand-drawn.
  • Use negative space in innovative ways to lead the eye.
  • Pantone says the color of 2017 is “Greenery”, meaning deep plant-like hues, mainly greens (even olive and khaki) but also brick reds, browns that suggest fresh soil and charcoal grey.
  • Use bright and bold colors – not too many, maybe only two or three – but be “courageous” with your color.
  • Show organic images – things like trees, plants and flowers, as well as natural textures, like wood grain or stone.
  • Include images of strong women, multi-ethnic groups and images that suggest wellbeing.
  • Hero images are becoming the standard for websites and other digital portals – this is a large image with just a bit of text on it.
  • Use photos that seem authentic – candid shots of people rather than posed. People also like seeing their own pictures displayed, so incorporating social media will find a receptive audience.
  • Cinemagraphs are huge right now – these are still images with a single moving element (like a beach scene where only the water moves while the palm tree is still or vice versa, or milk being poured into coffee where only the milk is moving and swirling in the cup, not the hand holding the milk).
  • Video is still on the rise, provided it’s attractive, tells a story and is short (no more than 60 seconds, and preferably half that).
  • The 1990s is having a big nostalgia run right now, so using images and even content suggestive of that decade will strike a chord.
  • Modern culture celebrates differences. Design content with your brand in mind, especially what sets its culture apart from others. Celebrate uniqueness.
  • Using storytelling elements to create content campaigns over time are still extremely popular and very successful at grabbing and maintaining interest.

Digital Signage Trends

  • 8K Ultra HD displays are being used more and more.
  • We are seeing more unusual display shapes and sizes, and combining displays into unusual configurations.
  • More screens in more places – displays can be put just about anywhere, and many organizations are finding surprising spots by analyzing traffic flow patterns through their facilities.
  • Simplicity is the new watchword for digital signage – it needs to be agile and able to be updated from anywhere, by anyone with access. The same goes for creating or importing content.
  • Personalization is another watchword – you want to be able to cater to various types of customers, all of whom have their own preferences.
  • Interactivity is becoming essential – vast amounts of information organized in such a way that the user determines how they access it. People are so used to interacting with information through mobile devices that digital signage needs to emulate a “consumer-like experience” to be accepted and useful.
  • Internet-enabled interactive screens allow people to save a step by opening a web browser right there, taking them directly to a webpage.
  • Innovative scrolling adds a “wow factor” to an audience that is already taking interactivity for granted.
  • Mobile integration is becoming more and more important, and will be one of the driving trends in coming years.
  • Voice controls (VUIs, or Vocal User Interfaces) are starting to improve to the point that this will likely be the interactive interface of the future.
  • Proximity marketing is on the rise, with screens interacting with people’s portable devices through Bluetooth or other technology like wayfinding beacons to send info directly to a handheld device.
  • Tailored content in playlists – this will become a major factor in digital signage in the future. The days of creating a single playlist and letting it run forever are gone. Playlists need to be flexible and responsive to the audience. Analyzing traffic flows and preferences will allow an organization to display playlists tailored to certain audiences at certain times of the day in order to maximize the impact of the messages.
  • Performance analytics are also on the rise – constantly improve communications by measuring what people do (and don’t do) at your screens. As digital signage becomes more commonplace, flexibility and data-driven ROI are essential to keeping ahead of the pack.