Optimize the trade-off between visual design and editability

Businessman drawing a colorfull splash across a grey cityscape

There are several essential elements to ensure that successful digital signage is being deployed in businesses. One of the most critical items that all new digital signage adopters should consider is the ratio between visual design and convenience of making changes. In this article, we will be discussing some of the facts and fallacies of digital signage designs.

Disclaimer: This article may not be beneficial to you if your digital signage solution cannot provide you an easy way to modify the contents in the animations displayed on the screen. Kuusoft NexSigns is the world leader in digital signage total solutions and offers the world’s first Animation Content Editor. To learn more, visit https://www.kuusoft.com/nexsigns/.

Visual Designs

Many visual animations and editing tools are available in today’s market. One of the most popular and sophisticated visual editing tools is After Effects, a production-ready software suite from Adobe. This tool is a designer’s best friend but is it probably your worst nightmare. Learning After Effects and being proficient at it is a full-time job. Therefore, unless you are an expert in After Effects, I suggest you stay away from it because it will cost you more time and money than just outsourcing the design project to a design agency.

After you have hired a designer and they have produced the animation sequence in After Effects, the final production will be outputting into a standard video format such as .mp4. You can put the .mp4 file on a USB drive or upload it to your digital signage platform provider’s cloud and have it sent to the digital signage player.

Let’s say you want to make a change; you will not be able to do this yourself because .mp4 video is non-editable. The only way to make a change (even if it is only a text change) is to contact your designer to make the adjustment for you and produce another .mp4 for you to upload and replace.

To summarize, the advantage of After Effects is that you can maximize your visual experience and make any visual effects without limitations. The disadvantage of After Effects is more cost, more time, dependency on designers to make changes, and inflexibility.

Content Management System (CMS)

Established digital signage solution providers usually have methods for users to be able to make modifications to the text on the screen through their editing system. This kind of system is typically called a content management system (CMS). It is very much like a word processor that allows you to make changes to static content.

The way it works is that the user must log on to one of the provider’s websites and then can begin to make changes to text and images that appear on the screen. Typically, it involves using the “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) concept. However, the problem with CMS is that you must ensure that the text/image is static on the screen. This ultimately restricts you from using animations, and your digital signage has just turned into a static poster.

To summarize, the advantage of CMS is that you have the flexibility to make changes anytime and anywhere without a designer. The disadvantage of using CMS is that you must completely surrender the ability to design beautiful animations to maximize the return on investment for your digital signage.

The Hybrid Solution

As you can see from above, there is no good solution to have the best of both worlds. If you want great visual designs, you will suffer from not being able to make changes yourself in a timely and cost-efficient manner. In contrast, if you want to make changes yourself, you must surrender more attractive designs and animations for your digital signage. This is essentially the trade-off between design quality vs. flexibility.

A group of engineers at Kuusoft Research and Development Lab came up with a solution to allow designers to create animations in After Effects while still allowing the customer to make changes to the content. The way it works is that the design will perform all compositions in After Effects and then process the design through the Animation Content Editor System. The designer can selectively expose editable fields to the user via Kuusoft OnePass. The user can then quickly make changes to the text or images that are part of the animations by filling out a simple form, and the changes will automatically be integrated into the animation.

To summarize, the advantage of this hybrid solution is that the user can easily modify the animated content without the need for a designer. The only disadvantage is that this solution is currently exclusively provided by Kuusoft and must be displayed through NexSigns. Thus, if you have existing digital signage, you will not be able to tap into this powerful hybrid solution.

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