Here’s a great example of how digital signage projects – no matter how modest – can succeed because the people or person behind it exercised solid thinking and common sense, and coupled that with some creative talent.
I saw a Tweet about a church using Rise Vision’s open source content management platform and Raspberry Pi 2s to light up its on-premise messaging. Then I saw a follow-up tweet, with pix, and thought, “That’s pretty nicely done.”
Eastview Christian Church is in Normal, Illinois, southwest of Chicago. Based on the church’s website, it has some tech and media savvy resources it can draw on for services, messaging and outreach. That’s clearly been leveraged on the internal signage system.
What’s different, and so refreshing here, is that this modest network – at least from the photos – is pretty much spot on the way I’d want to see it, from a consultant’s perspective.
The screens are well positioned, and the content is visually interesting and gloriously uncluttered. There are no tickers and no multi-zone layouts. The menu board design is tidy, and even the simple stab at wayfinding makes sense. Instead of a map to squint at and decode, there are two arrows: over here for this, over there for that.
Nicely done. Sooo many small projects – and a frightening number of large ones – go wrong because the focus is all about the tech, with only a passing nod to strategy or what’s on the screen. Many of these small projects look ghastly because the people behind them get software and services with multizone templates, and widgets, and tickers, and so on … and they use the heck out of all of that stuff.
These guys clearly thought it through (or got advice) and kept it logical and simple. It works!
The church has a “Pastor of IT” – not a job I knew existed, though I’m sure many IT guys regularly pray for servers to come back from the dead. Dustin Cassady, who holds that role, sent along the pix and some background.
“We have 10 different digitally modulated digital signage channels,” says Cassady. “Of those channels, all are running content through Rise Vision. Seven of the channels are running Raspberry Pi 2’s and three are running Rise on old Mac minis (2010 models).”
“All signage content that is not video is run on the seven Pi channels,” he adds, “and all of our video content is run on the Mac mini channels. The Pi channels are our primary channels, as we only run video content about twice a year.”
“Our interactive wall is powered by a Lenovo Tiny attached to a Vizio 70-inch screen, with a 32-touch point touch screen overlay from Tabler.tv running an interactive application we designed and developed in-house, using software called Intuiface.”
“All of our artwork and content direction is all done in house by our awesome graphics team,” says Cassady. “As for our content approach, we have always landed on “Keep It Simple.” We only communicate via digital signage the top five things going on in and around the church that week. Then, when we communicate that top five, we try to do it in a simple way, so that even if you only briefly see the signage, you can understand that we are wanting you to know. There are nor many bells and whistles and moving content.”
“We just want to communicate the most important items in a creative way that can be understood, even if the individual just glances at the signage.”
“We’ve been doing digital signage in our church like this for the past three years,” concludes Cassady in a note, “and outside of announcements from stage on Sundays, our digital signage is our primary voice of communication within the building, and has been a great addition to how we do ministry.”
Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s so great to run into a little group that just gets it.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.