October 30, 2019
4 min read
You want your audience to engage with your organization's digital signage messages – that's why you spend time crafting each one. But to really get them participating, use interactive digital signage with touchscreens.
Static digital signage shows one message at a time, repeated several times a day in a rotating playlist. Interactive signage allows you to essentially have all your messages available at once, nested in menus that let viewers search by various topics. This can be especially useful in high traffic areas that lots of different types of audiences pass through. Instead of trying to target four or five different viewers one at a time on the same digital signs, let everyone sift through your resources and choose what they need or want.
The basic structure of an interactive screen is a series of hotspots and menus, just like a webpage. People touch an item and get access to various messages or screens for that category. You can even have submenus to make navigation easier, provided you don't go crazy with this (studies show that people start getting annoyed after the third submenu). For example, you might have a large touchscreen in your lobby with several buttons people can interact with. One of those says "Events," and tapping it opens another page, showing on-site events by category, location or date. The audience then chooses how they want to sort through all the events in your facility by choosing one of these, and then see the information that’s important to them.
Interactive digital signage isn't just about what you display, but also how information is displayed. By giving people a more consumer-like experience (more like how they gather information throughout the day in their normal lives, using smartphones and websites), you also give them a sense of control that static digital signage doesn’t have. And because getting information this way is already familiar, your audience feels more comfortable and in control.
Literally any kind of information can be displayed on interactive digital signage: menus for on-site venues that serve refreshments, dashboards that show current energy usage, timelines and photo slideshows, social media feeds and posts, donor boards that show individuals and organizations who have contributed.
Considering donor boards, think about just how dense the information you offer can be – not only does the donor have their name displayed, but touching that name opens up a whole library of information about them – how much they contributed, when, other organizations they contribute to, links to videos and web pages about them, etc. The viewer can spend as much or as little time as they like browsing through this information, and can focus on the specifics they’re interested in.
Because people will tend to spend longer at an interactive screen than a static one, it's also a perfect vehicle for your daily digital signage messages. Just have one content zone that shows what’s up on the static displays (basically, a mini digital sign nested inside your interactive one), but offer hot spots or buttons to access other content on the same screen.
Wayfinding is probably the most common type of interactive digital signage, and offers the most benefits. Each person coming to your facility will have a different place they need to be, and different people to talk to. But it doesn’t have to be limited to just maps. You can pair interactive maps with an interactive directory, and each person can be helped in far less time than it would take using a directory on the wall or a receptionist giving directions. Touchscreen directories can be sorted by name, department, building, floor, events and more. And you can map a path from any or all of these from the location of the sign to the destination. You can even include an SMS option to send step-by-step directions to the person’s phone, or a QR tag they can scan to take the entire wayfinding project with them.
And wayfinding doesn't have to be limited to just one building. For larger facilities that spread out over a campus, interactive digital signage can include campus maps with shuttle mapping that shows real-time data on wait times and travel routes.
Interactive room signs can make space management for meeting rooms and other shared spaces easy. People can see what rooms are free and book a room or space right there at the room sign. Because it's all linked into your calendaring system, there is no chance of a double booking (and the frustration that can cause, not to mention the wasted time spent wandering around looking for a space).
People in more modern workplaces might even use portable, wireless digital signs for office hoteling, temporarily claiming workstations or spaces at certain times on certain days. For some companies, no one has a desk – they book what they need when they need it using electronic paper signs that can be moved around at will.
As interactive digital signage becomes more ubiquitous in malls, airports and even McDonald’s, people are beginning to expect it for all screens they encounter. Since the goal of your digital signs is engagement, going interactive is a natural next step.