Should your digital signage be interactive?

Should your digital signage be interactive?

Digital signage and kiosks are increasingly merging together in recent years, as many companies now deploy interactive digital signage solutions. These can run the gamut from interactive wayfinding solutions to augmented reality experiences. Many end users ask, however, if interactive signage is really worth it.

With interactive digital signage, end users have to consider whether they can afford it, whether their software can support it and whether they actually need it. Digital Signage Today spoke with Jill K Perardi, creative services manager at Visix, and Joe Murray, systems engineer at Visix, to get their take on how end users can know if interactive signage is right for them.

Q. How can end users determine if they need to make their signage interactive?

A. End users typically want interactive content because they may be trying to satisfy many needs, in addition to providing an on-demand, engaging experience. End users might want a solution to help a user find an employee’s location, a room where an event is being held, or the main office of a specific department. This can be accomplished by non-digital directories, but those can be cumbersome to update, particularly for employees where the data, such as events, changes frequently.

It could also be accomplished via a non-interactive digital directory, however, users will likely be forced to stand and wait for a long list of employee names, events or department locations to cycle through before they see the information they need.

Interactive displays allow users to find what they’re looking for, on-demand, by searching through directories. Interactive wayfinding takes the user experience a step further, directing users to their desired locations, getting them from point A to point B, quickly and easily.  Additionally, interactive displays can be great for far more than digital directories and wayfinding.

Everyone is so used to finding so much information at their fingertips with their phones and tablets. Why not provide that same experience on a touchscreen display? Content on interactive touchscreen displays can allow users to look up nearby locations such as restaurants, shopping, and attractions in a hotel or conference center environment.

Perhaps college and university students could look at a map of the dining hall and by touching each food station on the map instantly see what the station is serving that day. That would minimize congestion of students roaming from station to station to read the daily menu. Donors could easily be highlighted with photos, videos and bios just by selecting the names of the donors on a touchscreen.

In a waiting room environment, you could allow users to touch a button to view the latest news, then touch another to view a social media feed, then another to view weather, so on and so forth. These days, the options for interactive content are limitless.

Q.How can they save money when integrating interactive elements?

A. Preparedness is key. Know what you want to allow users to do upfront, poll employees to find out what they think should be available to touchscreen users, and determine the list of goals. Then, come up with an accurate scope that covers all of the “must haves” and some of the “would be nice to have.”  Build the project from that scope of work. The beauty of digital is that content can easily be added on without having to scrap the entire previous or original project. The downside is that unless it is done in planned phases, or within a single scope, sometimes changing minds and adding something on could change the scope of work drastically, thus causing a longer timeline and greater expense.

Q. How can they ensure their software can handle the interactive elements?

A. Customers demand more from hardware and software today than ever before. Nothing makes this more apparent than the prolific use of interactive content. Digital signage initially only offered static content. As years went on, displays got better, and breakthroughs in video compression technology, as well as higher-powered processors, allowed the use of dynamic content. Now we’re at a point where we can offer even more dynamic content than videos or animations; content that can be manipulated by users. Obviously, not all digital signage platforms offer the ability for truly dynamic and interactive content. So if you plan to use interactivity, you’ll want to make sure your preferred digital signage system supports it from day one.

Image via Istock.com.

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