Have you ever gotten all excited about buying something, but then disappointed when it actually gets delivered? For example, almost all of the stereo/AV/cable TV equipment I’ve bought over the years turned out to be way more complicated to use than I thought it would be. But you know what? I seldom thought about that part when shopping. I was enamored of the great sound or fantastic picture I experienced in the store, and never really thought about the 4-5 remote controls with hundreds of buttons on them I’d eventually have to navigate on a typical evening.
Workplace digital signage (DS) is very similar. Maybe you first saw DS in a company you were visiting and thought of all the great things you could do with it at your place. However, you probably didn’t think about the nuts-and-bolts of actually using it. But you should, because if it’s not easy to use, you won’t use it.
One of the primary considerations in determining ease of use is comparing the DS’s intended objective versus its design. If those two things don’t match up, keep looking. For example, maybe you recently admired a digital sign at a retailer showing items for sale. You realized that the sign was probably checking inventory levels, the weather outside and the product shipping schedule, resulting in it displaying the perfect product for that moment. However, while that sign was nicely designed for that purpose, it would be a bad fit for workplace communications because the objectives are very dissimilar. That’s because you’ll likely want to post existing web content, HR materials, KPIs and CEO videos, each of which has different sources and play times. And you’ll want to schedule their display times according to very different criteria. For instance, if you’re in in a shift environment, you may want to post certain content to appear 3 times per day, once at the beginning of each shift. But in retail, the audience – shoppers – changes every few minutes. Almost every aspect of DS design has similar conflicts depending if was designed for retail, restaurants, airport & train stations, advertising (think Times Square)... or the workplace.
Yes, you can use a system designed for retail (or other categories) for your company, but you won’t like it because there will be workarounds you’ll have to do on a regular basis to get stuff to come out right.
The bottom line is to buy the right tool for the job. If you do that, you will actually enjoy using it as well as buying it. Don’t let the fun end the first time you try to post content!