Sep 23 2023
6 min read
Digital signage is practically all around us!
The life-size digital billboard atop the shopping center, an electronic menu board showcasing fresh summer offers from the local ice cream store, or the digital wayfinder inside the elevator! Signage technology has become an innate factor of today’s technology, and with that comes the need for your business to get one in place!
In this blog, I will introduce you to the basics of digital signage software, such as:
what is digital signage software?
what are some must-have features of digital signage software?
some useful additional features to look for
quality checks needed before you purchase the software
tips to choose the right software for your business
Digital signage software is an interface allowing users to create, publish, manage, schedule, and update content on electronic screens such as curbside digital posters, electronic billboards, digital menu boards, LED flat screens, video walls, interactive displays, and much more!
These software tools ensure businesses can freely control and develop dynamic, engaging content ideas such as texts, graphics, animations, etc., and publish them quickly without the long wait for the design to be ready.
A digital signage software can also publish real-time content such as event live streams, live news & traffic updates, social media feeds, etc.
Digital signage software systems are also known as content management systems (CMS).
However, besides content management, display software can have additional functionalities like remote troubleshooting when the devices run into problems or advanced features like gathering real-time data & insights through AI, facial recognition, and voice recognition technologies.
In today’s world of digital transformation, communication needs to be faster, more efficient & highly relevant. Digital signage software automates many processes and integrates multiple operations to develop more harmonious communication across different platforms.
An efficient digital signage software should be empowered with the ease of accessibility and security while being multi-device compatible and customizable. However, some key features might be just right depending on the industry your business engages in! Read on to find the right one.
Just like you maintain a social media calendar to engage with your online followers, many businesses tend to create a digital signage content calendar. That means it is essential that digital signage software comes with a scheduler.
Using a scheduler, you can plan and decide which content goes on which screen and stays put for how long?
Here is what the content scheduler of Pickcel’s digital signage software looks like:
Schedulers are particularly useful for businesses like restaurants where the digital menus are often rotated thrice everyday. Besides, organizations with a large network of screens are also at advantage of reducing manual labour if their display software comes with a scheduling feature.
Any organization looking to improve business productivity with the help of digital signage will need to integrate the signage software with its existing business tools. These tools can be anything, such as:
social media platforms
meeting room booking software
token management systems
queue management systems, etc.
Third-party integrations allow pulling data from any source and displaying informative content on digital signage. Such content can range from live dashboards, sales data, stock market data, and traffic movements to real time news & weather updates.
Multiple layout features, such as portrait, landscape, footers, etc., enables users to display the same content in different areas of the screen and on various display sizes if required.
Your digital signage software should not restrict your creativity by limiting layouts. Many software applications like Pickcel allow the creation of custom layouts, where users can divide the screen space into multiple compartments or zones and play different media in each zone.
This is especially useful for businesses and organizations that want to play more than one type of content simultaneously, such as advertisements and news feeds or a product demo and the local weather.
The supported media formats are one of the first things to check when choosing a digital signage content management system. Every software platform will surely allow you to upload and play the standard content formats like image jpg and mp4 videos.
does it allow other heavier graphics like GIF, MKV, or AVI?
Does it enable playing PNG images with transparent backgrounds?
are web content, live content, or interactive content supported?
is there any storage or file size limitation for uploaded content?
You may think, I need to play only a few images, so what if my digital signage software doesn’t support web content or live streaming?
But, let’s say, a few months or even a few years later, a need arises to play some web-based content on your screens. Would you want to switch your entire software for that?
While choosing any software― or investing in any digital tool, for that matter― always keep scalability in mind.
Software-hardware compatibility is crucial for smooth content rendering.
Ensure that the software you choose is compatible with any existing systems you may have in place.
Choosing a display software that matches your system requirements could help save costs by avoiding purchasing new signage hardware and expanding your network without further interface alterations.
Many signage software like Pickcel supports various players and operating systems. Look for terms like ‘hardware-agnostic,’ ‘hardware-neutral,’ or ‘multi-device support’ while choosing your signage management platform.
Pickcel supports flat-screens, video walls, interactive screens and all types of players and all operating systems like Android, Windows, Raspberry Pi, LGWebOS, etc. Check the complete list of supported players.
Your digital signage network may be managed by more than one individual; a group of employees may use it to regulate the content, and another group may access it to check the devices’ health.
Therefore, your software must allow capabilities to create custom access permissions and user roles. For instance, Pickcel lets you create display groups, sub-groups, and custom user roles like operator, manager & editor. These user profiles can have varying levels of permissions like view, add, update & delete.
This feature is very useful in improving collaboration and efficiency. For more extensive screen networks, having multi-user access is a must.
Besides the key features listed above, some good-to-have features include:
Digital signage software platforms typically include a range of content-creation tools that allow users to design dynamic visuals for their digital displays.
These tools can be anything from a template library to apps to in-built or integrated graphic design software like Canva.
There are several advantages of getting a signage software with design capabilities.
Firstly, you can eliminate the constant hassle of shifting between different platforms — one for free stock photos, one for design, one for publishing, and so on.
Secondly, if your signage software system comes with apps, then even better.
For instance, the Pickcel app store offers its users tons of free apps like weather, digital menu board, digital product catalog, news apps, scroller, bulletin board, and many more!
Performance insights and real-time data on screen uptime may help you to get a bird’s-eye view of your digital signage campaigns.
Often these insights help build better content or facilitate critical decisions on resource allocation, internal communication initiatives, and network scalability.
However, you should not expect your signage software to come armed with heavy analytics artillery like predictive capabilities or automatic data visualization.
Most digital signage software platforms provide fundamental reports like:
The duration of each content played on every screen
The device status (for example, which device is active and for how long)
What content was played on screens A, B, C, and so on
That said, many software vendors have expertise in designing powerful and advanced digital signage analytics capabilities like counting viewership, measuring the dwell time on interactive screens, or playing personalized and highly-targeted advertising on their signage displays. But those require higher investments and advanced technologies and are considered customization projects.
An essential feature of any digital signage software, responsive functionality enables texts and graphics to adjust to their display layout automatically based on the size and orientation of the screen. This enhances the user experience by providing an optimal viewing experience regardless of the screen’s size or aspect ratio.
Most digital signage software platforms― cloud-based or on-premise― allow the display network admins to manage their signage campaigns from a dashboard supported on computers, not mobile phones.
However, a few vendors, like Pickcel, allow limited dashboard features on mobile devices, enabling users the flexibility to manage their network on the fly.
We have all heard of ‘one-size-doesn’t-fit-all,’ right? That’s the same with your business needs. Any product or service will have a set of standard features that will serve the primary business goals. Beyond that, a software solution should have the scope for customization.
Customizations can range from a simple change in an existing feature or integration with another platform to a complete software redesign. Before choosing your display software, you should always clear state your business objectives to your vendor and discuss if any customizations are expected.
Once you make up your mind about the interface you want to incorporate, it is essential to do a few quality checks:
1. End-to-end security
With cyber infiltration on the rise, choosing signage software with watertight security is essential.
Check for features like data encryption, unique login credentials for each user, segregation between players, HTTPS or SSL-secured consoles, etc.
Some interfaces also offer IP address blocking, allowing you to restrict access to the displays based on specific IP addresses.
Look for security compliance certifications like ISO or SOC-2. These certifications prove your vendor’s compliance with strict security protocols.
Pickcel's digital signage software is SOC2 certified. Explore the software features.
Ensures that the digital signage software is able to accommodate multiple screens per requirements and does not put a cap on the same. The software performance should not be affected by the number of displays added to the network.
Ask your vendor about any limitations in scalability. Ask them to share the details or case studies of any previous large-scale projects.
3. Remote troubleshooting
Most signage software systems are cloud-based and allow remote content management. However, ensure that, besides remote content management, the software also allows remote device management, especially basic remote troubleshooting features like running diagnostic checks to discover the issue.
4. Regular software updates
Perhaps, the feature that makes or breaks the digital signage game! With evolving technology, regular software updates are necessary to quash bugs, fix security issues, and more. It is important to note here that if your vendor claims to have cloud-based software, software updates should involve no extra cost.
5. Ease of usage
User-friendliness is crucial for any good digital signage software. A straightforward and intuitive interface can save you time and effort managing your content. An easy-to-use interface is essential as many of your employees handling the software may not be technologically sound.
Selecting software that suits all your needs can seem like a task. But with these tips in mind, you are good to go.
1. List down your goals
First and most importantly, assessing why you want to incorporate digital signage software in your operations is essential. List down the digital signage ROIs that you are expecting.
For instance, a small business retail store may wish to achieve a specific goal like “more sales on discounted products,” while the same for a corporate office may be “improvement of employee awareness on the ongoing talent programs.”
2. Browse the client portfolio
An important determinant of the kind of software and follow-up services the vendor provides can be the brand’s client portfolio. Typically, your vendor’s website will proudly showcase its clientele like this:
Are there any big names that you can recognize?
Then take a step forward: ask your vendor about previous projects during the live demo session. See how they have solved a competitor’s business challenge. If their solution worked well for an industry bigshot or your competitors, then you should definitely give it a try.
3. Check user ratings
Like any other purchase, it is essential to check user ratings for the digital signage software you choose to invest in. This briefs on the vendor’s services, retention skills, and trustworthiness. Some of the legitimate review sites for software services are Capterra, G2, and Software Advice.
4. Software trial matters
Most software platforms offer users a free trial to test their tools & features. Go for it. A software trial can be helpful in discovering whether the tool is buggy or if the features are incomplete and unsatisfactory.
For instance, Pickcel offers a 14-day trial where users can sign up for free and explore the software functionalities. Before availing of a free trial, it is best to book a demo with your vendor so that you are confused or overwhelmed during the trial phase.
5. Check for discounts
Look for promotions, discounts, and bulk-licensing options that lower your digital signage ownership costs.
You can subscribe to the company’s newsletters to receive annual discounts. If there are festivals or special occasions right around the corner, such as Black Friday, New Year, or Christmas, you are more likely to grab an offer on your purchase.
Some brands have a cut-down cost on their licenses, especially for educational institutions and non-profits.
If you want to build a lasting brand, upgrading your vinyl or blackboard menu boards, employee-welcome cut-outs, special offers, or a Friday night post-work is an absolute must! Whatever the purpose, the right digital signage software has proven to be an effective solution for businesses looking to improve their communication efforts in this rapidly evolving electronic world. Remember, the content you put out is the face of your brand, and with compelling visuals and a design that appeals to your audience, you got to hit the right notes!
At Pickcel, we have helped organizations of every size, including big brands like Amazon, Mercedes, Decathlon, Unilever & Etisalat, turn their business around through the power of visual communications. Want to join the list of game changers? We can help you. Connect with us to discuss your goals, or start a free trial of Pickcel today (no credit cards required).