Billboard advertising on highways is an art form of its own. The advertisement has to have enough information to get the marketing message across, but be short enough so that a driver traveling 65 mph (or 85 mph in some cases) can read it all.
Workplace digital signage (DS) is similar in many ways as it’s a screen that hangs on a wall. People pass by and you try to “advertise” your important messages to them. The dwell time, or time they have to read the message, is about the same as on the highway because the travel speed is slower and the distance traveled is shorter. Therefore, many of the same principals apply.
1. Keep it short and simple. Try to use ten words or less and express only one idea.
2. Use legible fonts. It’s easy to get carried away with fancy or funny fonts, but when readers are on the move you want to make sure your messages are easy to read. So, stay away from intricate script and strokes, use a larger font size, and use both lower and upper case letters.
3. Make use of the digital medium. For example, on paper you probably started with a white sheet and added text and graphics. When using Word and PowerPoint you also start with a white background. Consider creating your content on a solid color background or use a template to make the content more interesting.
4. Don’t be too clever. Boring DS will be ignored. Smart DS will grab the reader’s attention and leave a lasting impression. DS that’s trying to be too clever will lose the audience. Remember, you don’t have a lot of time to engage the reader, so keep it interesting but not impossible to figure out.
5. Don’t say it, show it. The phrase, “A picture’s worth a thousand words” is particularly applicable here. For example on Facebook, photos get an 87% interaction rate from readers. No other post type receives more than a 4% interaction rate. So, you want to use photos whenever possible, particularly familiar imaging.
6. Conduct the “business card” test. This is to figure out what size display your employees will actually perceive. For example, if you use 42” displays at your company and the average employee reads it from 20’ away, it will appear to be about the size of a business card. To test this, walk out to your closest display, stand the average viewing distance away and hold up a piece of paper (like a business card) that covers your view of the display.
Now print out the content you created, tape it to a wall, and move away from it until the piece of paper covers it. Can’t read it? Then the text is too small.
Overall, it’s all about keeping the content short and interesting. Have some fun with the design and concept; that added x-factor can make a big difference in readership. “Fun” beats “corporate” every time.