Wow Factor May Get The Attention, But Give A Little Love To Boring Digital Signage
May 9, 2022 by guest author, Jeff Juszczak
GUEST POST: JEFF JUSZCZAK, SPECTRIO
Big budget, grand-scale projects understandably get a lot of the attention when it comes to digital signage deployments, but leave some love in your hearts and busy minds for all the screens out there that are boring, and perfect for their tasks.
Most of us get excited walking into a commercial space and seeing big LCD or LED video walls with visually interesting or even immersive creative content. Those screen projects can be amazing, and the sorts of efforts that generate buzz and win awards.
But there’s a growing subset of digital signage that has little or nothing to do with Wow Factor. Instead, it’s just about communicating stuff – whatever that stuff might be for that place and moment.
The Importance of Boring Digital Signage
Airports are a particularly great home for these subsets of displays. Expanded and renovated airports often incorporate large format digital features like video walls, and retail tenants like duty-free operators invest a lot of money into digital displays not only inside the stores but as the dynamic facades of their shops.
However, think about all the other digital display technology used in airports to simply inform and guide the people who are departing or arriving. Flight Information Displays, or FIDS for short, have been staples in modern airports since the days of CRT monitors, relaying arrivals and departure times drawn from airport management systems. There are also Gate Information Displays, or GIDS, that provides a set of key information to passengers at gates for specific airlines and flights, including boarding times and status and, in some cases, weather reports for the destination.
As check-in counters are increasingly automated, screens are being used to locate airlines, specify flight classes (like business vs coach) and guide travelers through procedures like printing off, tagging, and loading their own bags into the machines linked to airport operations. Sensors and AI can analyze crowd volumes and patterns in security screening areas. At some of the busier airports, that information is being relayed to screens that let travelers know how long screening might take, which lines to get in and if new lines or checkpoints have opened up.
Behind the scenes, out of view of most travelers, there may be screens in the operational areas. Delta Airlines, for example, has what it calls RIDS, short for Ramp Information Display Screens. Those monitors are there for the relatively small number of workers on the tarmac – giving them real-time, need-to-know information about gate and crew assignments, luggage volumes, and schedules.
To a casual observer, what’s on these screens might seem profoundly boring. But for the airport ramp crews, they are profoundly valuable – because they’re working in environments that are loud, potentially dangerous, and always changing. Screens do the mission-critical work of keeping workers informed.
Other Common Locations for Simple, Informative Screens
That same mindset applies across all kinds of scenarios:
Retail – The pickups, parts, and return processes at Ikeas, for example, are easier now because there are digital signs informing customers of wait times and status. A lot of busy retailers have adopted queue management technology to manage common checkout lines and in-store pickups.
Restaurants – Instead of staffers hollering “SUSAN, YOUR ORDER IS READY” or “NUMBER 147!!!”, more and more QSR and fast-casual restaurant operators are using screens tied into real-time data from management systems to handle the communication of order pickups. The screens might have nothing more than “ORDERS READY FOR:” and a few strings of numbers and letters identifying orders, but those screens lower the chaos and calm the environment.
Workfloors – In production environments – whether staff are assembling electric cars or bagging kettle-fried potato chips – screens are being used to show the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for a factory line and team. In what can be loud, on-the-go environments where staff tend to be deskless, screens effectively communicate the information that keeps teams on both task and target.
Boring Digital Signage Isn’t A Bad Thing
Attractive layouts, as well as proper font and color choices, are always a good thing, but the core creative goals for these kinds of operational digital signage displays are viewability, not visual excitement. It’s more important that the screens are optimally located, and show the information that the audience – whether public or behind the scenes – needs, wants, and uses.
Boring can be deadly for marketers. But for business communicators and people focused on operating efficiencies, boring can be awesome.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jeff Juszczak is Spectrio’s VP of Software Engineering. He manages Spectrio’s Engineering and Software Development teams. His focus is on unifying the company’s platforms, evolving its internal systems, and directing the development of new solutions for Spectrio clients.