Learn Basics of Customer Experience Design at Digital Signage Expo

DESIGNERS. The artful use of digital displays, interactive technology, and digital communications networks is creating compelling and information-rich spaces for inspiration, education, and networking in retail stores, airports, museums, malls, and entertainment venues.

DSE_logoBecause designing these energy-infused spaces takes a unique set of skills and insight, the Society of Experiential Designers (SEGD) is presenting a day-long Customer Experience (CX) Workshop on Tuesday, March 10 as part of the Digital Signage Expo (DSE), March 10-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Geared for designers, marketing and branding professionals, and technology providers, the workshop runs from 9 am to 5 pm and covers the basics of customer experience design.

SEGD is a global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design, and build experiences that connect people to place. SEGD’s 1700 members from 20 countries include graphic and information designers, fabricators, architects, exhibition designers, technology integrators, interaction designers, brand strategists, and others who have a hand in shaping content-rich experiential places.

The workshop at DSE will present an overview of the basics of customer experience (CX) design and technologies that can be used to create dynamic interaction, customization, and unique, attention-getting experiences.

The experts at SEGD contend it’s important for creators of customer experiences to understand what technology can and cannot deliver.

“The Customer Experience is where new technologies and design meet. When you design the new customer experience using design thinking to focus on the user, not the technology, that is when the magic happens,” said Clive Roux, CEO of SEGD. “We’re partnering with DSE to bring design, marketing, and technology together at this event to experience what is possible when design and technology work together.”

The five program modules will discuss the state of CX, how to create a seamless customer experience across multiple platforms, how to use digital displays for more engaging shopping experiences, and best practices for integrating display technology. Speakers will also discuss what is possible with new models of immersive media for public spaces.

The presentations will include insights from top CX innovators, including :

DSE is the world’s largest and longest-running conference and trade show exclusively dedicated to showcasing innovative digital communications and interactive technology solutions for customer- and employer-facing organizations. Launched in 2004, DSE was the first event dedicated to the digital signage market and has contributed to the growth of this fast-paced field.

“SEGD’s program is the perfect fit with Digital Signage Expo because our attendees are increasingly interested in integrating digital displays into their venues as part of the built environment,” said Richard Lebovitz, educational director for DSE. “SEGD understands the importance of this trend to architects and designers who are charged with incorporating digital communications into the physical spaces they are designing. The association’s educational program at DES provides a unique opportunity for the design and technology communities to share ideas, insights, and information.”

The DSE 2015 Exhibit Hall will be open March 11-12 and feature more than 200 exhibitors of technology and services including hardware, software, networking, delivery, and content. The extensive educational program features sessions such as

  • Future trends in digital signage
  • Effective integration of social and mobile technologies with digital signage
  • Digital signage on campus
  • Data visualization: Using real-time information for create intelligent, dynamic content
  • The power of video walls in retail
  • Leveraging visual communications across multiple platforms
  • Technology-enabled environments
  • Digital signage in healthcare settings
  • Reinventing the fan experience
  • Human factors in digital signage
  • Getting results in the retail world


SEGD CX Workshop at Digital Sign Expo

Digital Signage Expo 2015


Checklist for Creating Content for Digital Signage

DESIGNERS. Digital signage is quickly becoming a mainstream advertising medium. Simply look around in retail stores, shopping malls, arenas, gas stations, hotel lobbies, restaurants, and you’re likely to see one or more digital signs.

If you haven’t yet been asked to create content for digital signage, you may be soon. Digital signs are becoming more popular partly because they can display many more advertising messages (more content!) than a single, printed sign.

Users of digital signs quickly learn that the quality and the creativity of the content on the sign really matters. In the foreword to an e-book on “Content and Content Management for Digital Signage,” Digital Signage Today editor James Bickers notes that the best digital signage hardware and software will fail spectacularly if used to deliver weak, boring, or poorly designed content.

To help ensure that your creative ideas will meet your client’s needs, the digital-signage experts at Keywest Technology have developed the following checklist to help marketing managers provide clear instructions when asking a designer to produce content for digital signage.

Clearly state what you wish to accomplish. Explain precisely how the signs are to be used. Will they be informational in nature? Do you want to sell a product or service with the signs? Is the communication mission straightforward like that of a menu board? Or is the mission more nuanced?

Define your target audience. Provide as much demographic and psychographic information about your intended viewers as possible What is the age range, sex, and ethnic background of the intended viewer? What are their interests, attitudes and opinions?

Identify where the signs will be located. Giving your creative team this information will inform decisions they make later about the appearance, placement and dwell time of content they will create.

Explain desired quality. In today’s world, it is hard to imagine that the display or displays to be used won’t be HDTVs. But even if that’s the case, will they be 720p, 1080i or even 1080p displays? That information will be helpful when content is created and may reduce the need for up, down or cross conversion of video, graphics and animation content.

Prevent visual spam. Because digital signage is becoming more common, the level of “visual noise” is also increasing. This should be considered along with the sensibilities of the target demographic. Work with designers to create a pleasing visual environment that will be more readily received by a discerning audience. Avoid excessive in-your-face content that may work against the shopping experience by overloading the senses. Too much eye candy is not a good thing –it can give eye pain.

Define duration. On a macro level, your messaging will be used for a finite period before it must be updated or changed entirely. On a micro level, individual pieces of content will dwell on the screen before being updated by the next item in the list. Provide duration information about both types of messaging. This will help your team create content that can accomplish its communications task in its allotted onscreen time, while building a workable schedule for producing future content.

Discuss the number of onscreen zones desired. Give your team a rough idea of how many discrete areas of onscreen real estate you envision being used to communicate your message. Suggest what you believe should be communicated in each zone. But don’t consider this the last word on the topic. Instead, use your initial vision as a starting point to discuss and ultimately define how many zones will actually be used.

Identify existing content resources. While you will want your content to be fresh, engaging and designed to meet your communications goals, there is no sense reinventing the wheel when existing resources can be used or repurposed. For example, if you plan to use a digital sign to communicate to owners of high-performance cars while they wait in a car dealer’s service area, you might consider using an existing RSS feed of Formula One, Indy Car and NASCAR race results and news for an onscreen crawl.

If you have worked on digital signage projects before, do you think this checklist is complete? Is there additional information you wish more clients would provide before you start working on a digital sign project?

Keywest Technology is a leading provider of interactive digital signage software and players.  The company’s website includes a variety of case studies and white papers related to the many different uses of digital signs.


About Keywest Technology

White Paper: Content and Content Management for Digital Signage

Billboard Art Project Offers Visual Relief from Ad Messages

ARTISTS. Would you like to see your work displayed on a roadside billboard? If so, watch for the 2012 schedule of the Billboard Art Project. The project is run by a nonprofit organization that acquires digital billboards normally used for advertising and repurposes them as roadside galleries.

The types of work displayed include images created specifically for the billboard as well as images that have been adapted to the format. Each show is open to all individuals and groups who are interested in participating.

The first Billboard Art Project debuted in Richmond, Virginia in October 2010. Since then, shows have been scheduled in Duluth, Chicago, Reading, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and San Bernardino. No two Billboard Art Project shows are alike. Each city features new work.

The show’s founder, David Morrison, was inspired to create The Billboard Art Project after seeing some test images on a newly erected LED digital billboard while he was driving to work. He said the images were like the desktop wallpaper pictures that come preloaded on your personal computer, but “they carried a striking resonance when displayed on a billboard.”

He found it refreshing to see something other than advertising posted on the billboard. Now that advertising messages are everywhere we look, he says “When you see a billboard that isn’t telling you what to buy or who to trust, it carries the impact of the unexpected.”

Visit The Billboard Art Project website for more information about applying for the show. To see work that has been displayed and announcements of upcoming shows, visit the Facebook page for The Billboard Art Project.


Website: The Billboard Art Project

Facebook Page: The Billboard Art Project


New Screen Technologies May Change Computer Usage

After attending a recent Display Technologies Conference sponsored by the market-research firm DisplaySearch, technology PR expert Andy Marken sent me an interesting paper entitled, “It’s Not About the Personal Device, It’s About the Personal Content.” In the white paper, he summarized some of the predictions made at the conference and observes that continuing advances in screen technologies may ultimately change how we use computers.

And, he wonders if seeing these advanced screen technologies in movies and TV shows such as “Minority Report,” “NCIS:LA” and “Hawaii Five-O” will help speed mainstream adoption. Here’s a quck rundown of predictions Marken came up with, based upon presentations from the analysts and developers who attended the display technology conference.

Computing power won’t disappear, but will continue to evolve.
Marken writes that, “The IBM PC that recently marked its 30th anniversary looks Stone Age next to our tablet system and smartphone. In another 30 years, even these marvels will join the ranks of memorabilia at the Computer Museum.”

Evolution of Computers from IBM PC to iPad to Unknown

He believes today’s hugely popular tablets and smartphones are just waypoints along the road: “In 30 years, you’ll wonder why you even carried them with you to get your information, news, data, and entertainment.”

The computer as we know it will fade away.
“Why do you need a personal device when cloud computing, cloud storage and virtual computing are here?” asks Marken. The smart network is rapidly rising and an Internet layer protocol called IPv6 has been rolled out globally.

“In its simplest terms, IPv6 is an Internet layer protocol for providing end-to-end datagram transmission across multiple IP networks.” writes Marken. What this means is that: “You’ll have your own phone number (ID) and the network will be smart enough to know where you are so your communications—written, video, audio—can be routed to the nearest enabled device – your car, TV, shopping cart display, fast food digital sign, watch, clock radio, you name it.”

If you start to wonder if technology might be moving too fast, Marken cites statistics that suggest the rate of change will only speed up: “Intel estimates that over the next four years, there will be 2 to 3 billion Internet users (approaching half of the world population). And, there will be more than 15 billion (Internet) connected devices.”

He predicts that as chip sizes continue to shrink and become increasingly complex, we’ll see a healthy mixture of general-purpose and specialty processors that use less and less power to perform more and more tasks: “It probably shouldn’t be too hard for the chip folks to put the- CPU, GPU, video, encryption, baseband and other operations in something so small it will work in anything, everything.” Increasingly, the devices are all connected over the wireless mesh networks to larger and larger “systems” that manage content traffic and store personal information as well as company and general information.

Information will be personalized.
Today, people want to control their own information gathering. Interactive display signage kiosks such as the one shown below are an important step in meeting the consumer’s wants/needs. The kiosks allow you to ask questions tailored to your wants and needs and then recommend which products might right for you. These types of kiosks will eliminate the need for the traditional sales clerk. If the kiosks can help you make good buying decisions, the theory is that you will be a more satisfied customer.

Interactive Display Signage from BrightSign“Semi-intelligent signage is already being used around the globe to enable consumers to view and learn more about products and determine which ones they want to purchase,” Marken points out. Some of the more advanced systems even have a virtual mode that shows you wearing or using the product.

Displays will help you make decisions on the go.
A subway-system display island that enables you to use your smartphone to make an instant purchase and have the products delivered to your home is a logical first step. “Consumers will go to a 3D interactive digital sign, make a selection, ‘try it on,’ make the purchase and be on their way. It sure beats shopping with the wife.” writes Marken.

A rudimentary alternative is already being tested in South Korea by HomePlus, one of the country’s largest retailers. It lets you shop at display areas and use your smartphone to scan a barcode to place an order which is delivered to your home. One reason this technology is being tested in South Korea is because by the end of this year, almost half of the 49 million residents of South Korea will have smartphones.

Subway Display Island in South Korea from HomePlus Retail

The next steps will be to view the product on digital signage anywhere in 3D, virtually try it on or work with it, and purchase it using your personal ID. Your personal ID could be a scan of the iris of your eyes, a thumbpint, or automatic facial-recognition.

Screens are changing…rapidly.
“A lot of folks say the industry is trying too hard and people just don’t want 3D TV and a bunch of dumb glasses.” say Marken. But he predicts that “In five years, you’ll wonder why people said 3D TV would never take off. You won’t remember being entertained in 2D. Until then, sit back, live with it, enjoy it.”

3D TV screen by Panasonic

Although quality 3D content is woefully lacking, and few people like wearing the glasses, these issues are likely to get resolved sooner than we might think. Based on what he learned at the trade show, Marken predicts that as interactive 3D screen technology continues to improve, the demand will grow, and eventually, “They’ll not only be in your family room but everywhere you go.”

Touch screens will also become more ubiquitous. Marken notes that on almost every new system you interact with, you expect to simply tap the screen a few times and get the information you want: “Watch a little kid come up to your notebook and watch them instinctively try to enlarge or shrink pictures with their fingers. Only your TV is a passive screen, but that too will change.”

At the DisplaySearch-sponsored conference, analysts predicted that LCD displays will grow at a compound annual rate of 39 percent through 2014 and there will be screen technologies to keep us entertained everywhere, all the time. Soon, you won’t even think twice about walking past large interactive signs.

“We’re already comfortable digital signage, and just expect it to present information and images in a clean, crisp form,” says Marken. “The use of static printed signs in stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, educational and worship facilities, and businesses are rapidly being replaced with solutions that bring the information to life.”

What sparked all this enthusiasm about new screen technologies and the changing face of computing? Check out the video “A Day Made of Glass” made possible by Corning.

Because a glass company produced it, this video highlights the many different types of glass that will make advances in screen technology possible.

“The thing we noticed in the video is there is computer power everywhere but none of the ‘computers’ we’re used to interacting with today,” says Marken. “And it all looks and feels so natural, so logical. Your information is available to you wherever you are, when you want it…heck, it will probably be telling you before you ask. We’re just not sure who will be storing it all, and managing it all for us.”

Personally, I regard Andy Marken as a credible source. Like me, he’s watched how rapidly technology has evolved just over the past 30 years. We have both witnessed multiple incidents in which skeptics have initially scoffed at certain technologies only to see those same technologies gain widespread acceptance in five years or less.

The most recent example, of course, is the Apple iPad. Remember how it was initially dismissed as “just a larger version of the Apple iPod touch.” That’s one reason I agree with Andy’s assertion that 3D screens will gain widespread acceptance sooner than today’s skeptics might think.


VIDEO: A Day Made of Glass Made Possible by Corning

About Display Search

Emerging Displays Technologies Conference

Marken Communications


Fast-Growing Digital Signage Market Needs Top-Notch Design

DESIGNERS. Digital signage is quickly gaining favor as a powerful new medium for advertising, information display, and entertainment. According to a recent report by Global Industry Analysts, the global digital signage market will grow to $13.8 billion by 2017. While the retail sector remains the prime end-user of digital signage technology, the GIA analysts expect growth to occur in other market segments such as financial services, transportation, and hospitality.

Some digital signage systems are being sold as end-to-end solutions, encompassing installation, consulting, content creation, content management, and support. But in a post on Digital Signage Today, BrightSigns CEO Jeff Hastings explains why “Using Professional Digital Content Developers Just Makes Sense.”

Although some budget-conscious small business owners might prefer using turnkey, ‘in-the-box” software and design templates to create, schedule, update, and monitor high-definition displays, Hastings points out that, “The content displayed on the digital sign is by far the most important in determining the success or failure of the digital signage.”

He advises hiring professional content developers who know how to use tools such as Adobe Creative Suite, Cinema 4D and Maya for motion graphics, and Final Cut with video editing. With these tools, creative pros can use content that can be used not just for digital signage, but also for websites, advertising, brochures, and mobile marketing.

For example, the image below shows how moving images on a backwall display are closely tied to the images on freestanding and tabletop displays. Hastings points out that audiences have come to expect top-notch visuals.

Photo courtesy of BrightSign: www.brightsign.biz

He writes, “Today’s sophisticated consumers have higher expectations when it comes to the messaging media they view. Since most consumers still watch a tremendous amount of TV network programming and Hollywood movies, they have an expectation of highly produced content.”

In his post, Hastings quotes Kirk VanderLeest, vice-president of the video-production house Flixio, in Oregon City, Oregon: “Basically, digital signage is all about the content, and the last thing you want to do is to be limited by the creation software for your final content. We recommend having professional content developers create the absolute best content they can, and then let the digital signage software do what it’s good for–distributing and managing the content.”

As demand for digital signage grows, so will opportunities for designers. When we asked Flixio Creative Director McKay Marshall about what types of skills he would look for when hiring new creatives, he told us: “Because the boundaries of digital signage change daily, we’re looking for creatives who can think “outside the frame.” Gone are the days of 4:3 aspect ratios, and 16:9 formats are becoming more and more nebulous. Sometimes it’s rocked over on its side. Sometimes it’s joined by a wall of 30 other screens. Being able to ideate independent of one particular format creates separation among designers, and delineates the success of companies.”

Marshall offered this advice for creatives who might want to get into the digital signage field: “Focus on what it is that you look at as you go throughout your day. You can learn a lot about what works in design by being cognizant of where your own attention is spent. Remember that digital signage differs from other motion and time-based mediums in that it is first and foremost a sign. Work out your design as a static concept, then bring it into animation after it succeeds as a still image.”


Digital Signage Today: Using Professional Digital Content Developers Just Makes Sense

Press Release: Global Digital Signage Market to Reach $13.8 Billion by 2017