Considerations for Churches Communities When Thinking About Digital Signage
It is clear that Digital Signage is a very flexible tool. It can also be a very useful and powerful tool for your Church, and can be a simple or complex as you choose to make it. However before you decide to take the leap there are a few things you should probably consider, understand and agree upon, before taking the leap into the world of Digital Signage for your Church:
What do you want to do with the Digital Signage?
While putting in Digital Signage is not an overly complicated endeavor initially, determining what you think you want to use it for is probably the bigger question initially. As knowing the scope and size and content you want to use the Digital Signage system for will determine the overall design and capabilities you will need to consider.
Who will determine what gets posted to your Digital Signage system and when?
- While it is sufficient to say anyone (or any group) can post anything they want on this new system you are considering, but in practice this can be a little tricky. Because while you do want your new Digital Signage system to be used as much as possible, there will typically always be pressures for various groups/teams/individuals to highlight things that they are passionate about, and then how does this effect other groups/teams/individuals who also want their message to be highlighted.
- At the same time there can also be a need within your Church community to control what content is being posted on the Digital Signage for your Church, and determining what content is appropriate for the specific Church may need to be controlled (or at least guided) at times.
- Determining who is responsible for specific content, is sometimes helpful. So establishing an impartial “gatekeeper” for your signage can be useful in helping to resolve scheduling and potential content issues in a diplomatic manner should they arise. The larger your Church the more a gatekeeper might be a worthwhile position to have in place (not that smaller Churches cannot be without their fair share of politics …… nod your head at this point in time if you understand what I mean by that)
Who will be responsible for administration of your Digital Signage environment?
- While a Gatekeeper can help to facilitate issues specific to what will go on the digital signage and when, you will also need to have a resource in place who is able to build and maintain the environment, and perhaps even post content to the system if other resources are not able to do so.
- From an administration point of view you should determine first if you have the skills available in-house to be able to maintain your system consistently, or if you want to instead employ an outside resource to administer your system.
- You can as well split this role into two parts, one group/person who is responsible for simply ensuring new content is scheduled and posted when needed, and a second who is there to ensure the system is running and to troubleshoot should there be any technical difficulties. But both these roles need to be taken care of, it would be up to your Church to determine of this can be done with current church resources, or if you require an outside company to do this for you.
- There are companies that can take care of everything for you (including creating content for you), however as is always the case the more you ask of them, the more it will cost for you to run your Digital Signage environment.
Who will be creating the content for your Digital Signage?
- Within a Church this can sometimes be one of the most overlooked considerations when wanting to build a Digital Signage system. Because while it is safe to assume that various groups/teams/people will want to utilize the digital signage to promote various happenings in your Church. Who will be creating the visual content and what do you want this to look like? In the most basic case it can just be simply having individuals submit a picture or slide for things they want to promote.
- However you also need to determine if this will work for your Church, as the overall quality of what you are displaying can vary depending on the skill level of the individuals who are creating the visual graphics for your Digital Signage. How professional do you want your Digital Signage displays to look would be the question you will want to ask your team?
- The fact is that some groups/teams in your Church may not even have resources who can create this content for themselves, let alone someone who can do it well enough so that it looks professional enough for your specific Church needs. A group in your Church may only have an idea of the message they want to get out, and maybe not even a clear message at the start.
- Does your Church have resources that can help (and are willing to help) create the content for your Digital Signage, some Churches may even create a team of individuals/volunteers who are responsible for creating content that is needed, and who have the necessary skills to accomplish this consistently.
Overall design considerations?
- While it is true Digital Signage is very flexible and can convey a lot of information, you can also cram too much information into your Digital Signage if you are not careful, and lesson the effectiveness of the message you are presenting.
- As an example, if your display is simply a series of full screen images that play one after the other, there can be a tendency to include as much information on an image as possible. But if there is too much information on the screen, a person may not be able to understand or absorb the content before the next image is displayed. In that case you might be better to simplify or to use 2 images to convey your information rather than just one. (Also make sure that any text that you may be using is large enough to be read at a reasonable distance from the screen).
- Alternatively, you can display several messages at the same time on your digital signage screen, in select areas referred to as “zones”. So you could have a series of video playing on one part of the screen, a section of the screen showing information for various small groups in your Church on another part of the screen, and perhaps references to this week’s scripture on another part of the screen, and a third zone showing references specific to this week’s sermon.
- You should however try and ensure that the number of different “zones” you use in your displays is in-line with the overall size of the displays you are using, and does not become so crowded that it is hard for a person to follow and/or read easily. For example, you may have a very large display in your main foyer which can quite easily accommodate 3 or 4 zones effectively. But you may also have two other smaller displays which can only really display a single zone well enough to be effective. Keep this in mind when determining what, where and how you want to communicate the message and/or information you are showing.
Content – How old is too old?
- Corporations will spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single advertisement that will show in airport lounge digital displays repeatedly months on end. These ads will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, but sometimes only be viewed once or twice by each individual.
- Your Church displays however are more likely to be viewed by a few hundred people, but these individuals will probably pass by your digital signage displays a least once or twice a week for the entire year. So ask yourself, if what is showing on the screen is always the same as it was last week, last month, last year, will your signage still be effective a year after you put it in?
- So while it does certainly take effort to create the content for your digital signage display, and you want to get the most out the effort that was made in planning and creating that content. Ask yourself how long a specific video, slide or display can be on your signage before the individuals passing by your signage stop taking notice of what you are showing. Once this happens, it then becomes hard to break them of the habit of not looking, once they do stop looking (and they will stop looking if you don’t keep their interest).
- To continue to be effective, try and vary the content of what you are showing on a regular basis. It might still be the same 6 small group that are utilizing the digital signage, but try and vary the look and content of what you are showing on a regular basis (you need to keep it interesting). That is not to say that you cannot reuse a video that you have used before, you most certainly can. Just where possible, try and keep your content new, fresh and changing on a regular basis.
- Now changing the look of a screen on a regular basis is not always good for all Digital Signage applications. For example, if you use a small display to update various room bookings in the Church each day, then you will probably want the overall design of that screen the same over time so it becomes familiar to your congregation. That way they know to look at that screen to find out which room their Bible Study is located on this particular afternoon.