Workplace digital signage: ease of installation does not equal ease of use

I’d say that ease of use trumps ease of installation any day when considering a digital signage system for your workplace. That’s because the pain of a tough installation fades with time, but the pain of a difficult to use content management system (CMS) lives with you forever.  That pain will eventually cause you to severely limit or stop using your digital signage all together.

An example of this dynamic that everyone can relate to is kitchen appliances.  Some are easy to use, like a toaster or refrigerator.  Then, there are others like complicated juicers and espresso machines.  If you’re like me, you use the easy ones all the time, but the other ones get used a few times and end up in the back of a kitchen cabinet. Digital signage is exactly the same.  It has to be easy to use if you’re going to want to use it regularly.

What do I mean by ease of use?  With a good system you should be able to do any of the following tasks in 2 minutes or less (I can do them in less than 60 seconds on the Marlin ECS):

• Upload a PowerPoint slide or deck
• Upload an Excel or Word file
• Post a website by copying and pasting a URL
• Create a countdown or count-up timer to an event or to keep track of something
• Add a QR code to any of the above to direct the employee to download the content or refer to a website
• Stream or upload an existing video
• Add a quick memo and/or photo from your smartphone

You should be able to do these tasks in 3-5 minutes:

• Design an employee recognition piece with custom text and photos
• Create a company memo from scratch
• Create animated charts from an existing spreadsheet file (could take longer if the spreadsheet is complicated)

Not only should you be able to do these tasks quickly, but you should be able to do them without referring to a user’s manual.  This is a key to the ease of use concept, because if you have to constantly look up the instructions about how to do something, you will end up not doing it some or all of the time.

Ideally, you’ll end up with a digital signage system that is both easy to install and use.  But keep your focus on the long term, i.e., ease of use.

Frank Kenna III
June 25, 2015

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