How to design beautiful digital signage on a budget

While there are plenty of costs to consider when building a digital signage network, one area worth highlighting is that of creative services, which refers to the people and processes that are responsible for writing, designing and ultimately producing the onscreen messaging that is shared across your network.

The effectiveness of your network is going to depend, in no small part, on the timeliness and effectiveness of your content so it’s an area where you really don’t want to be cutting corners. At the same time, graphic designers tend to be expensive and you don’t want to create a situation where every idea, every opportunity to message your audience, is taxed with heavy professional fees.

So how do you execute beautifully, targeted, high-quality messaging that is tailor-made for each screen in your network on a limited budget? And what are some tips and techniques you can use to deliver effective content without breaking the bank on expensive creative services? That’s what we’ll explore in this article.

Leverage your team

If you have people on your team that have any creative skills whatsoever, consider employing them in the creative process, at least to some extent. Unless you have a massive operational budget, outsourcing the creative process isn’t a very attractive solution.

Outsourcing creates a costly dependency between you and your provider. It wasn’t that long ago that a digital signage project, by definition, meant spending millions of dollars on a dedicated creative team either one inside your organization or one you’ve tapped through outsourcing.

The good news is that the old systems of the past, which were never designed to be used by everyday business professionals, are slowly giving way to newer, more modern systems that can deliver the same level of user-friendliness you’ve come to expect in a social media platform. Your staff is already posting online.

Even if your organization is small you may have a staff member or two with a designer’s eye. With just a little help and encouragement you could also have them posting on your digital signage network for fun and for profit. Bear in mind also that a local manager is likely to have in-depth knowledge of the local audience and a fuller context of what’s happening at the screen level. That makes them great candidates for adding value to the onscreen messaging that’s taking place at each endpoint in your network.

Learn from the past, leverage your existing resources

Digital signage isn’t the first new marketing opportunity your business has faced. Over the past thirty years, you’ve seen trends in technology give rise to a whole range of new digital channels. You’ve probably already solved similar kinds of problems that you’re going to face when trying to tame digital signage.

Think back to the way your organization adopted desktop publishing, email marketing, or social media and you’ll see what I mean. These lessons from digital transformations of the past are instructive when it comes to new challenges. What’s more, is the digital artifacts they’ve produced throughout your organization can be very helpful when it comes to digital signage. That logo you designed for your company newsletter, that promotion you shared via email or that video you posted on social media.

While they may need some special formatting for the TV screen, nevertheless, they are just the kind of digital assets you’ll need to create for your digital signage purposes.

Choose a digital signage software platform that YOU can manage

If you have millions to spend on capital equipment and ongoing management costs and don’t mind creating a major dependency on a new vendor, you may want to consider working with a full-service marketing agency.

On the other hand, if you’re like most companies and you are more budget-conscious, you may want to take charge of the project yourself. After all, you don’t want to become beholden to another company just to enjoy the full benefits of your new communications channel.

The good news is that new digital signage software is now available on the market that allows you to unlock the full benefits of professional digital signage with less cost and less complexity. You’re just going to have to shop around for the right digital signage platform that meets your needs.

You need a software solution that produces great-looking content out-of-the-box – one your organization can easily adapt and use on a daily basis without running up exorbitant professional services fees.  Here are some features to look for in sizing up those vendors claiming to have an easy-to-use solution.

  • Beautiful Aesthetics out of the box- a brilliant playback experience with no transitions, beautifully designed templates, a wide selection of screen layouts and aesthetic themes.
  • Built-in rich media editor – not just any media editor but one that is flexible and allows you to place images, text and video precisely where you want it, one that allows you to style every aspect of your creations.
  • Built-in support for your favorite data sources like Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook and Instagram
  • Simplicity in the user interface.  If it requires a manual to learn…it’s too complicated.
  • Easy setup process.  This article is about saving costs in the area of creative services but of course if you want a system that’s easy to manage you also have to think of the setup process and how the equipment is managed.
  • Automation.  If for example, 80% of your content is pre-scheduled or driven by automated publishing techniques…that allows you to focus on the remaining 20% to ensure it is timely and perfectly on message.
  • Easy to manage at scale with hundreds of screens as it is with only one or two screens. Time is money. Remember, when your network is flying at a full scale you still need a system that is uncluttered and easy to operate – one that allows you to execute your content across all screens in a manner that is as targeted as it is powerful.

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