Digital Signage – A Content Driven Design

Digital signage is an integral component of AV design. It’s a powerful communication tool for organisations and facilities across any industry, in any space. The possibilities of digital signage are almost endless thanks to the evolution in display and projection hardware and software; visual design; and analytics technology.

While the technology and infrastructure of your system remain vital, content ultimately determines overall digital signage success. That’s why content should be a key driver in the planning and design of your digital signage system.

Why a content strategy is vital to the design of your digital signage system.

The danger of the ‘systems-first’ approach is that you may limit yourself in the content you can deliver from your digital signage. Aligning your long-term content strategy with the system design process allows for smoother deployment and ongoing management of your digital signage. A little investment in content goes a long way in maximising your system’s value. A content strategy:

  • Extends the life-cycle of your digital signage system (reduces the need to overhaul your system to integrate with other AV technologies, foresees new content capabilities or growth of your signage network).
  • Delivers the best user-experience.
  • Ensures (measureable) success.


Kamila Marcinczak, Rutledge AV’s Content Creation Director, has seen the extraordinary difference a content strategy makes.

“Of all the digital signage projects we have rolled out over the years, clients who have a well-considered, robust digital content strategy experience the best return on investment and engagement levels that surpass expectations.”

What is a content strategy?

A content strategy is a framework outlining fundamental goals and direction for your digital signage.

Some key questions to explore are:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What message(s) do you want to communicate?
  3. How will your audience occupy your space(s)?
  4. What type of content are you looking to present?
  5. How will you be managing, updating and creating content?
  6. What does ‘success’ or ROI on your digital signage mean to you (and how will you measure this)?


Examining these factors builds the context behind your digital signage – defining the outcomes you want to achieve and how to best implement and manage your system.

Understanding your audience.

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Whose attention are you trying to capture? Internal staff? Clients? Customers? The general public? Different audiences will be drawn to different types of content. Defining your audience (and understanding how your signage can benefit them specifically with targeted, relevant content) will help identify the most effective way to communicate.

The objectives behind your digital signage.

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The true foundation of your digital signage content strategy is the intention or objective behind your communication.


Some of the most common objectives for digital signage are:

  • Brand Awareness (sharing your brand story and values).
  • Promotion/Sales (selling or promoting products or services i.e. digital catalogues or menus; advertising).
  • Inform (company updates and information; weather, traffic, news or social media feeds).
  • Guide (wayfinding and locations; timetables and schedules).
  • Entertain (live TV, gamification).

  • Immerse (engage your audience by fully immersing them in an experience using projection, interactive technology, augmented reality and face recognition applications).
  • Enhance the built environment (a brand statement and personality in the form of large scale digital art experiences using various display surfaces).


How will your spaces be occupied?

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The relationship between space and audience is an important consideration in digital signage planning. Two key factors are dwell time and frequency of visits.

Dwell Time:

Dwell time is the amount of time a person spends in a certain area.

Spaces with higher dwell times, such as waiting areas or foyers, are an opportunity to showcase longer-form and dynamic content (such as video or interactive content). People have the time to stop, absorb and engage with content. Interestingly, a 2013 study found that audience attention time with dynamic content was 1.5 times higher than with static content.

On the contrary, signage in areas where people are constantly on the move, like outdoor signage, provides a smaller window to the audience’s attention. Clear, concise messaging will be more cut-through.

Visit Frequency:

If the same people will be occupying your space regularly (for example employees in the workplace, or students in an education facility) avoid content fatigue by having a high-refresh rate of content. The higher the frequency of visits, the more often you should be updating your signage with new content.

Types of content.

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Digital signage has moved leaps and bounds from static text and image. UHD video, animation and 3D graphics; 3D mapping and projection; real-time data integration; personalisation through touch, motion-sensor and device-triggered interaction (NFC) – and that’s just to name a few.

Different models of display equipment and signage players offer unique capabilities. Your technology must enable the content formats you want. For example, if you plan on having 4K content your systems must be equipped with UHD functionality. Or in the opposite case, your content is low-resolution but your system is built for HD. The content needs to match the tech – and vice versa.

Content creation and management.

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Depending on the sophistication of your digital signage strategy, content can require full-time management. Will each display surface or zone have unique content or will you have blanket content across your signage? This will determine details like the number of signage players you will need, the appropriate player licences, and the ideal network configuration (the type of servers required, how the systems will be managed and controlled e.g. remote or centralised monitoring access).

Think practically about who is going to take ownership of the digital signage management, what ongoing content creation you will be able to manage in-house, or whether you will need to outsource this to content creation and design specialists.

“At Rutledge AV our content creation team comprising of digital art specialists, UX designers, software developers and digital marketing experts ensures that the consultation process leads the way to long-term innovation and hassle-free content management,” Marcinczak says.

Measurement and success.

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Defining what success of your digital signage means to you allows you to quantify its value. Digital signage analytics have advanced in the last few years and it’s now possible to measure much more than impressions. Smart cameras and sensors can report on dwell-times and user behaviour; audience demographics (such as age and gender) and even emotion. If you are interested in such technologies, ensuring that your digital signage infrastructure will integrate or incorporate these is key.

Thorough consideration of your content strategy by yourself, your consultants and integrators, will be a key driver of digital signage success. We can work with you to produce your content strategy.

Marcinczak adds that “our unique offer that guides our clients through technology implementation decisions whilst keeping content discussions at the forefront have been key to rolling out phenomenal digital outcomes.”

Bringing a content strategy to the table when planning and designing your digital signage system will inform hardware and software selection; determine the optimal system engineering; and guide you through long-term digital signage management.


With a multidisciplinary expertise in digital signage technologies, design innovation and content creation Rutledge AV can ensure the ongoing success of your digital signage and communication project. Learn more about our content creation & design services.

contact our team to discuss your digital signage needs