Total Ownership Digital Signage – How Hard Can It Be?

Trying to set up a simple, good quality digital signage system or menu board in a store or restaurant can seem a little daunting at first. There are many subscription based digital signage systems out there, but what if you don’t want to pay monthly fees? I want to share a few ideas with you about how you can make sure you get the right setup for your needs.

If you find the prospect of setting up a digital sign or two a little overwhelming then I first of all want to put your mind at rest. Sure, you need to organize your content and choose the right hardware, but with some simple guidelines this is not going to be much of a hurdle. If you’ve done some research then you’re already familiar with the different software services out there, and probably wondering if you need them or which one to go with.

The fact is, for smaller networks or standalone digital signs, you really don’t need a subscription service if you don’t require a lot of regular updating of content from live sources. I would definitely advise you to go with someone like Scala or Signagelive if you need to pull in regular news updates and ticker feeds, like say an investment firm showing visitors and employees all the latest information. There comes a point when requirements get advanced enough that you need these services – it’s why they’re there.

But if you have made content to sell your products or inform visitors about what you do you probably don’t need to update quite as often and certainly don’t need live data feeds. The good news is you can build anything from a simple welcome screen to very sophisticated networks without having to pay anything more than the cost of the equipment. In a moment I’m going to give you a few tips on what to look for to match your needs to the equipment you buy. First I want to explain a little more about making sure your content is at its best. There is not enough space in this post to go into it fully here, but there is a page on our website that provides a few tips on producing content for your digital sign so that it looks great. If you want more info on this just leave a comment at the end of this article letting me know what you’d like to find out about.

Now, down to business. You have to know what you want to get out of your digital signage setup. Are you aiming to enlighten visitors, engage with customers or communicate with employees? What is it you are trying to communicate? Your digital sign can’t tell you what to do, but it can play different content at different times of the day, collect data from interactivity or check with a server to see if there is new content to play. Plus for the energy savers (all of you I hope) you can get players that consume very little energy and know when to turn themselves on and off. All these things influence your choice of equipment. Once you’ve figured this out here are a few pointers to consider:

  • A digital signage media player with no internal moving parts (solidstate) consumes up to 10 times less energy than a PC, is silent, generates no excess heat and is typically extremely durable
  • For smaller shelf edge systems you can buy screens with built in digital signage media players that are ready to run straight out of the box
  • Some manufacturers provide free software to manage your media, set up interactivity, schedule play list playback and retrieve data
  • Updating content over a network can save a lot of time, but almost all players should enable you to update content on the machine quickly, for example just plugging in a USB stick with new content and turning the power on
  • Digital screens help to create specific environments, consider the design of the environment as complete digital sign solutions can come as standalone units or without a frame, ready to be built into your environment. However, operationally speaking both are quite similar

This isn’t everything, but I hope this gives you a few things to think about and helps you organize your digital sign setup. It’s really worth the planning as a well thought out network deployment can add significant boosts to your visitors/customers experience or purchase decisions.

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