Guest Post: Debbie DeWitt, Visix
Whether you’re an AV/IT integrator, architect, consultant or experiential designer, you probably have clients considering digital signage, but unsure of how to get started. Here are eight questions you can ask that will help focus the conversation and make sure they get exactly the right deployment for their needs:
1. Why do you want digital signage?
Establish what their goals are. Is it for employees and internal staff, visitors, or both? What they really need to do is ponder the experience of digital signage in their facility from the target audience’s perspective. Have them consider all the possibilities. And what are they hoping to accomplish? Do they just want to inform and entertain, or would they like to accomplish more – like raising brand awareness, increasing efficiencies and workflows, or pushing traffic to on-site vendors and events?
2. What does your audience need?
Once they’ve figured out who their audience is and what they hope to achieve, they should find out what their audience needs and wants. It’s certainly possible for an informed management to discern some things, but nothing beats direct feedback. Have them conduct surveys to see what’s wanted. Have them walk through their spaces and watch what people do – are visitors getting confused at certain places in the facility? If so, maybe some wayfinding at that spot would alleviate frustration. Doing research like this early in the process can save a lot of time and energy later. It will also help them determine the best placement for displays.
3. Who will “own” the system?
They need a champion who will think about and use the digital signage system every day – somebody on staff who likes the system and feels it can accomplish their goals. They will cheerleader participation, helping the system adapt and evolve to suit the needs of the audience. Otherwise, they’ll spend a lot of money for a system that will become orphaned and ineffective.
4. What kind of content do you want to show?
Walk through all the different types of information they want to show on screens, and determine where the best place for each is. You don’t want everything everywhere – match content to the audience and the experience. People walking into a lobby or entry hall will want certain types of information, while people in a staff breakroom will need something different.
5. Would interactive screens improve the visitor experience?
Discuss options for interactive wayfinding and directories, donor boards, menu boards, queuing systems – anywhere you see visitors confused or seeking out information that could be presented on a touchscreen. People have become used to interacting with public touchscreens and their own personal mobile devices. Information and accessing information is a consumer experience today, and the more your client can offer the same sort of control and experience to their audience, the more receptive that audience will be.
6. Do you need help managing meeting spaces?
If they have a lot of shared spaces, digital room signs can show calendars from their scheduling application. Interactive room signs allow for room management right at the door, and wireless e-paper signs can show bookings for office hoteling areas. In a space that is reconfigurable, e-paper signs are ideal, as they can be moved quickly to any spot and still be connected to the calendar. And room signs of all types can also offer additional real estate for digital signage messages.
7. Do you have a budget in mind?
Is this a new project, update or an expansion? Can they do a pilot before purchasing and launching system-wide? They should – clients that pilot the system first often find they save quite a bit of money and time down the road. Find out what type of resources they can commit in terms of timelines and funding. If need be, their champion can get everyone together and come up with a comprehensive budget that considers current needs, as well as maintenance and later expansion.
8. Do you have an integration partner?
Do they want you to act as a consultant or a vendor for the digital signage system? If they already have an existing partner, bring them into the conversation ASAP. Everyone should know what’s happening at every stage of development and deployment. If possible, bring in a rep directly from the digital signage vendor to help shepherd the implementation and adoption of the technology.
Once your clients have answered these questions, the conversation will be more focused and more efficient. This will also help them choose the right digital signage service for them. A bit of forethought goes a long way to helping clients create an effective digital signage system.