“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – so goes the saying often attributed to Will Rogers. Video walls are intended to create a strong impression, and most organizations put them in their lobby, to make that first impression as lasting as possible. Video walls have got real “wow factor”. And when considering them, you have to think L.A.R.G.E.
How to make a video wall? The first thing to say about video walls is that they’re big, sometimes really big. But size matters – a standard 4×4 matrix in a huge open space loses impact, and a massive one that covers floor to ceiling in a small break room would be too much. You want to make sure the size and configuration is appropriate for the physical space the video wall will live in. Think about the physical dimensions, layout and ambiance of the space, and that will guide you toward choosing the right size.
You also might consider a non-rectangular configuration – what are known as Artistic Video Walls. These can be in any shape or pattern you like, and some even have angled displays that give you maximum flexibility. You can even mix and match displays of different sizes and aspect ratios. But you want the quality to be uniform across all displays. Many companies that incorporate digital signage with their video walls use transparent displays, which is another option.
Don’t make it all too bright. Your goal is to surprise and delight your audience, not overwhelm them. Putting a video wall up too high, so people have to crane their necks to see the content, is also counterproductive. Also, the larger the matrix and brighter the screens, the more heat the displays throw off. Get displays with integrated cooling fans so you don’t roast your audience while they look at your content. And design content to use the native resolutions of the displays for the best look possible.
Content is everything – consider what sort of content you’re going to show and what the overall impression and goals you’re going for are. Will you be using it as a branding tool, for advertising, for wayfinding, or for something else? Answering these questions before deciding on display types and configurations can help “future proof” your video wall.
The size and configuration has already made people look (hopefully with an exclamation like “wow” or “cool”). But the content is what will keep them there longer. Just because you have more screen space doesn’t mean you should jam the video wall with lots of text. Use best practices for digital signage design, like the 3×5 rule, having colors that complement one another and the physical environment around the displays, use motion (though judiciously – having things flying around at high speed on the screens can make people feel uneasy), and so on. The size is what gives your content that extra impact.
Video walls give a unique opportunity in that they are actually multiple displays linked together. So, depending on your video wall software, you can have them all acting as one huge screen, and other times you can mix it up with different content on each screen. Just make sure to leave them up longer, so people can take in all of your messages. Not too long, though – about 30 seconds is usually sufficient to get the message across, and when people’s attention begins to waver.
REINFORCE Your Brand, Mission and Values
Video walls are a great opportunity to reinforce brand recognition. Your logo, colors, etc. are all there, bigger than life, and will stick in people’s minds. But you can also use that extra attention they’re giving you to remind them what your organization is all about – your goals and mission statement. This might be done though brief quotes, employee spotlights, or through selective use of imagery that communicates who you are at your core.
Remember that people will see your video wall displays when they first come in through the lobby, but also again when they are leaving the same way. For video walls in other locations, they’re a great opportunity to remind people of the values that make your organization unique and worth working for. Such considerations are more and more important to employees and the public alike. Simply having all the displays in the matrix show a large message that says something like “helping people communicate” or a similar statement that sums up your values gives that message more weight. Conversely, having each of the displays show a single word or image that together communicates something important about you company can also have a lasting impact.
Obviously, the larger your video wall, the more you can display without distraction. The world’s largest indoor video wall is the Westgate Las Vegas Super Book wall – 20 by 220 feet. This allows them to show multiple feeds, data visualizations and messages at once. It’s likely your video wall will be somewhat smaller, but the same principles still apply.
GUIDE Your Audience
Your video wall can help people orient themselves to your brand and values, and also to your facility. Use the displays to let people know what’s on-site. If you have other digital signage screens around the facility, tell them where to look for those displays and what they might find on them. Use the extra moments people will spend looking at your video wall to let them know what is available to them. People love it when they get a question answered without their having to ask it. Your video wall is like a massive virtual concierge, greeting people and informing them of options.
Think about dwell time as well – people in a lobby are passing through and might use a moment or two to get oriented, but then they’ll move on to their destination. In places where people spend more time, you’ll want to use more detailed content but also more variety to keep them looking and absorbing your messages.
Consider making your video wall displays interactive, so people can find what they need immediately. Or use your video wall to guide them to interactive kiosks nearby that have searchable directories, wayfinding options, menu boards and the like.
EXEMPLIFY Who You Are
Your video wall is really a sort of ambassador for your organization. If you are a fast-paced, high energy company, reflect that in your message designs and screen configurations. If you are a more solid, dependable sort of place, then have slower transitions, more muted colors and fewer messages on the displays at the same time.
As always with digital signage, design everything with your audience in mind. And road test it – put some messages of different kinds up on the video wall and then walk into the room and see what effect they have. Then adjust until you’re giving the exact impression you want.
Video walls can be an incredible value-add to your communications with both internal staff and the public. Any kind of organization can benefit from them – corporations, universities, hotels, manufacturing facilities, even hospitals and government offices. Consider all the possibilities a video wall holds, and then plan the best way to maximize its impact. Go L.A.R.G.E. or go home.