Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Digital Signage Need to Know: Why simple software is better with DS.

-Deacon Wardlow
Simple is better. Look at all the things which have taken off in popularity because of simplification:

Point-n-Click cameras: (as opposed to complicated cameras which required a careful study of light, timing, range, etcetera)

Computers: say what you will about Apple, but the Lisa was in a ton of schools because it gave children an intro to the world of computing which was easy and familiar and now even toddlers can operate a tablet (before they can even speak)

Web Browsers: no dialup, no need to know a BBS (Bulletin Board System) phone number or access address and log information. Browsing information from another system is as simple as a search or entering a web address.

Web Design: one of my first jobs coding was developing a web site, the interview was a blank piece of paper where I had to write the code (on paper, completely from memory) to make a website look like a printed out page in front of me. Now web development is as simple as drag-and-drop

Digital Signage (DS): hold up here you say? DS is getting simpler and the leaders in the industry understand change is necessary.

Taking Apple's new iOS 7 platform for example. The system has a tremendous number of back-end changes which most end-users won't appreciate. While I don't like the flat colors and simple look, I understand what Apple is going for. They want the interface to change, but remain intuitive. Apple opted to go back to their roots of "simple is better" and make that happen both in the way the iOS device works and looks. 

It's important for DS to be simple. DS systems are made to convey content to the public. Sometimes the purpose is for financial gain, other times the goal is more outreach and objective oriented rather than income-driven. With DS, the common saying is, "Content is King." The problem with content is it needs to update dynamically, it needs to change frequently, and it needs to be timely and informative to the public. The difficulty most end-users have with DS systems is the control solution almost requires a computer science degree for some systems while others make the end-user jump through a ton of hoops just to schedule a simple piece. Want dynamic conditional messaging? I hope you're well versed in SQL-based systems and java scripting. 

Change is happening and it's out there. When reviewing LED Sign and other DS systems, take a test drive or ask for a video/example of the control suite for the system. Can the software be learned quickly? Is it easy to use? The easier something is to use, the more frequently it'll be utilized and with DS the more frequently it's updated and maintained, the better. Find out how frequently updates are made with the system. Can the manufacturer customize the solution (while keeping it simple) for specific end-user requests? Is the software capable of being used anywhere and anytime? Can someone access the system from a mobile device or are they locked-in to a single use instance (one installation on a PC in an office or a requirement to pay for additional installations?). 

The easier something is, the greater the appeal. Droid and Apple are demonstrating that with the smartphones in the market, even Microsoft is moving to the cloud to give users better access to systems. Is your manufacturer forward thinking or falling behind the times? If the system your promoting isn't simple to use, the easy answer for the client is go elsewhere for their needs. If the system your promoting isn't simple to use, the easy answer for the client is go elsewhere for their needs.

*Please comment here and/or email me directly with requests, questions, or follow-up at deacon@vantageled.com. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.

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Deacon Wardlow said...
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