Digital signage software is just as important as display hardware, as it ensures the hardware can be utilized completely and easily. With any A/V solution, there is always the question of usability – is it something that anyone can pick up and use, and can they use it productively? As digital signage has become more mainstream, signage software has kept pace, focusing on streamlining the layout process and offering additional features. Now, there are dozens of software providers, but the basic idea behind signage software is typically the same from provider to provider.
What is the point of digital signage software?
Ever wonder how those display graphics are put together in the first place? The easy answer is – some artistic type. The real answer is usually much different. Digital signage software has made every step of the layout process easy to manage, even by someone who has never opened Photoshop or InDesign in their life. That may sound too good to be true, but this is what signage software brings to a display solution:
1. Intuitive drag and drop interfaces, with template functionality – This is the bread and butter of signage software, and the reason layouts are so easy to put together with it. It’s standard for signage software to now offer hundreds of templates, using every layout arrangement possible. Most programs also allow the user to import media in from other sources, so if a company has an artist on staff, they won’t go to waste.
All of it is controlled using drag and drop functionality and a simple bank of tools. In most cases, the user won’t even need to access those tools, as every layout frame can be tied to a piece of media that is stored on a server somewhere. This means that a layout can be put together in seconds by someone who has never used a layout program before. It also means that layouts can also be changed in seconds, and in real time. Live updating is a standard feature for signage software, and affords backend personnel complete control over layout.
Furthermore, the use of digital signage and signage software means that the company’s artists don’t have to waste time on layouts. Instead, they can focus entirely on producing media and graphics for those layouts. It may not seem like a major shift, but it’s one less thing that businesses have to pay for and spend time on.
2. Moment to moment content scheduling – Businesses maximize their profits when they can adapt their messaging to fit the current situation. Perhaps a small café sees a huge influx of customers during lunch hour, and an easy way to communicate the day’s specials is needed. Fortunately, signage software comes with content scheduling that allows to-the-minute layout planning. Content scheduling means that no one has to go into the display’s backend and manually alter the layout. The layout will automatically switch to the new layout at the programmed time, and then switch back to the default layout once the time period passes.
Content scheduling can be planned throughout the day, allowing for a constant cycling of layout options. It can also be programmed to only trigger on certain days of the week, certain days of the month or even on holidays. Further, content scheduling can be assigned to only some displays connected to the server, so to repeat the café example, a display put in an exterior facing window can be programmed to display daily specials, while displays inside the building can feature the full menu.
3. Social media compatibility – Given the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and social media, signage software developers spied a natural connection between social media users and digital signage. Most software can be linked to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. Once connected, part of the display’s layout can be reserved for responses to company social media posts or for Tweets that incorporate a particular hashtag. These posts and Tweets make for an interactive experience for the user, and also drum up popular support for a brand to anyone observing the display.
Obviously, it would be a bit dangerous to allow unfiltered social media posts to be displayed without a check, which is why signage software usually comes with post filtering. This can be set to automatic filtering, picking out certain words and rejecting posts in response. It can also be set to manual filtering, where someone on the backend has to approve the posts before they go online.
4. Engagement analytics – The point of digital signage is to engage with people passing by. The easiest way to ensure that a display is doing its job is with engagement analytics. Such analytics can be tied to social media posts, which are advertised on the display, or they can be tied to URLs, like the company’s website. Engagement analytics measure what times of the day are seeing peek engagement and from what kind of devices. This can clue the business on what layouts are gathering the most attention, allowing for smarter layout decisions going forward.
5. A whole bevy of applications – Apps are practically synonymous with A/V solutions these days, as they add a great deal of functionality to devices. This is also true with display software, which can take on plenty of apps to enhance display options. For example, an RSS feed can be run along the bottom of the layout, ticking news across as it happens. Weather, market tracking and traffic maps are popular additions to corporate layouts, and make sense for displays used in office settings.
Businesses can also incorporate apps from review sites, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, allowing the company to display positive customer reviews.
Calendars, sports scores, photos – there are apps out there that can make it easy to display just about anything. Some software is even compatible with collaboration applications, allowing teams to utilize the display as a focal point for brainstorming sessions.
6. Extended compatibility – While most companies rely on displays built in pretty standard form factors, there may still be some variance in size between displays. This can be dramatic in some cases, like when jumbotrons are part of the display network. Signage software is designed to compensate for these differences in size, ensuring that the layout works on with every device, be it a television, projector or something much larger.
Signage software is also designed to work any kind of media, including high definition photos and video.
The shift to digital signage is inevitable for almost every business – there’s just too many reasons not to transition from print to digital. One of the few sticking points for companies has been the usability of digital signage, but with signage software, that problem has been taken care of as well.