When speaking to digital signage insiders, there are two things that I get nodding agreement to when I mention them.
First, what a client “wants” vs. what they really “need” are almost always two different things. Second is the fact that the system design and integration is like an iceberg, where the largest portion is beneath the surface and not seen or appreciated until it is too late. In few AV integration areas are these two issues more evident than in digital signage and digital menu boards.
Quick serve restaurants (QSRs) and their menu boards are one of the fastest growing applications in the realm of digital signage. The key driver is the need to constantly change information on QSR signage, influenced in part by the federal mandate to post ever-changing nutritional information.
The second driver is the need to increase brand equity and build loyalty, as well as gain repeat business. An excellent way to achieve that is through all the variables of digital signage, where the customer experience can be improved and behavior can be directed and modified. In practice, digital signage can make a visit to your favorite QSR a positive experience beyond the food at the core of its business.
Going back to the iceberg analogy, so much is often unnoticed beneath the surface by the casual observer. The success or failure of a QSR system depends upon selecting a great display and putting effective content on it. However, there is a lot more to consider from an overall design and integration point of view. Here are a few things to consider about the focal point of the display, the importance of the mount, and their location on the mounting surface.
It all starts with human factors. You must take into consideration how far the viewers are from the display, and pick the proper screen size. You must also take into account the angle in which the menu boards are to be viewed. By understanding a few dimensions, it is possible to calculate the optimum viewing angle for the average height viewer, and ensure the product meets the specifications and the objectives of the system design.
Now that you know the best mounting location from taking all the human factors into consideration, safety must go hand in hand. You need to confirm that the wall or ceiling structure will support the weight. Integrators, architects, or consultants will typically perform the necessary steps to ensure this, but it is always worth asking.
Asking about the location of the menu board will also help in recommending the right mounting solution to protect the displays from kitchen elements, such as incorporating a protective shroud if the menu boards are right above fry vats.
Human factors and safety also tie into aesthetics. In some cases, the end user may desire a viewing angle and location that might expose cabling or hardware, leaving an unattractive view for customers. Solutions might include cosmetic covers to close the gap and clean up the final menu board appearance.
The covers can also provide an area for additional branding if desired, or simply be painted to match brand colors. There are also bezel options that can be employed as a customization to frame out the entire menu board, giving them a polished touch.
Last but not least is ease of installation and maintenance. We all know that time is money, and one cannot underestimate the importance of a “repeatable process” for installation, as well as a system with minimal components, maximum adjustability, and adaptability for a variety of mounting surfaces.
From the maintenance perspective, if there is a failure, the panel must be repaired or replaced quickly. If the media player is placed behind the panel, and needs to be repaired or reset, access to the back of the panel must be easy. Taking these factors into consideration, it’s critical to ensure maintenance is performed expeditiously by providing the most optimum mounting solution. This relates to total cost of ownership (TCO) and ensuring maximum “up time” of the system.
The key point is to take into consideration what is behind and around those colorful displays, and in the process embrace human factors, safety, aesthetics and maintenance. Doing so will ensure the integrity of the digital signage system, and gratify the expectations of both the end users and their customers.
Author Rich Pierro, co-CEO of Premier Mounts, will be a panelist on the Digital Signage Federation’s October “Hangout” discussion entitled, “Tried & True Practices in Digital Menu Board Signage,” on October 14 at 2 p.m. EDT.
Both DSF members and non-members may join this or any of the DSF’s scheduled Hangout conversations for free, but registration is required and can be accessed on the “Events Page” of the DSF website.