Digital Signage:  Best Practices for the Workplace from Marlin

By Frank Kenna

Having thousands of customers using our digital signage (DS), we often get questions about various usage issues.  Here are a few of them, along with our view of the best way to handle each one.

Q: How long should a particular piece of content stay on the screen?

A: Our recommendation is to think of DS as a highway billboard as opposed to a movie, that is, when people walk by, they should be exposed to one piece or set of materials at a time.  Then the next walk-by there will be a second set, and so on.  The idea is to expose your employees to important information during their normal activities, not to have them stand there waiting for the next piece.  Given this, the display time should be in the 1 to 3 minute range, which is enough time to read an average piece of content in one pass.  Limiting it to only seconds can be frustrating for people who are approaching the DS and think the piece looks interesting, only to have it disappear once they get close enough to read it. 

Q: How many days should a piece stay in the content rotation?

A: You want to leave it up long enough so that employees see it at least 4-5 times.  That’s the “magic” number of impressions needed for learning; if they view it less than 3 times they won’t absorb the message, more than 6 they’ll ignore it. After 5-6 views, remove it as it’s important to always have some type of fresh content circulating.

Q: Do you have any advice on size and number of words per message?

A: For a typical 42” – 50” screen, short headlines should be 4-5 words, 72-120 pt.  Longer headlines can be up to 10 words and 36-48 pt.  Body text size varies with number of words, but should never be smaller than 20 pt. or more than 100 words.  Footers with ‘by lines’ or photo credits can be 14 pt. 

Q: What can you tell me about formatting my message for maximum readability?

A: When using a light or white background, bold text is best and conversely, on a dark background use a light type color.  Light backgrounds are harder on the eyes, so consider medium to dark backgrounds for most pieces.  Unless you have a specific reason for using them (i.e., corporate edict), stay away from serif fonts.  San-serif fonts are more block-like, made of straight lines and smooth curves which look better on digital displays.  If you use “rules,” i.e., lines or boxes, make them at least 2 pts., and larger sizes should always be an even number (2,4,6,8, etc.). 

Q: How about advice on best practices for layout, size (resolution, inches, etc), font style, color etc.?

A: Think of your pieces as advertising.  Use strong headlines and limited body text.  Photos, graphics and animations help a lot.  To get some ideas, visit a consumer-facing website (e.g., Macy’s  or Target) and look at the national-brand advertising.  The design conventions used there are a good guide.

Q: Do you have any advice for “keeping it personal” by displaying birthdays and anniversaries without it ending up being a laundry list of names?

A: Although the term “laundry list” sounds boring, such a list done correctly can be quite effective.  Not only is it easy to produce a regular piece using lists, but people like seeing the names of their fellow employees.  One fun idea is to select a particular birthday person to highlight, according to a big birthday (30, 40, 50, etc.), and then doing a highlight on the person.  This could include a photo of them doing what they love, such as cooking or fishing, along with a short paragraph about their non-work life.  This will keep your list fresh and interesting.

That’s it for this blog.  If you have any additional questions or techniques you’d like to share, feel free to post them using the “Leave a reply” area below. 

Frank Kenna III
October 11, 2012

Get a Free Digital Signage Demo A Free 10 Minute Online Demo of the Marlin Electronic Communication Station

Find out just how simple and effective digital signage can be for your workplace communications.

Tell us what you want to do, and we’ll customize your demo on the fly.

  • Experience the simple user interface.
  • See how easy it is to post documents.
  • View industry specific content created by Marlin.
  • Learn how to manage users and content with ease.
  • Learn about enterprise networking tools.
  • Get ideas for your digital signage network.
  • See digital signage in action with a dynamic mix of content.