But determining how to design, place, and use them can be both art and science, says Melody Walker, director of communications at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
The school recently placed two large displays from the Planar Clarity Matrix video wall system line in its newly opened Knight Hall—one in the first-floor lobby and one in the third-floor gathering area. The first-floor sign is an 86 inch by 52 inch LED digital display with three panels. The panels include a touchscreen overlay that works much like a giant iPad to allow users to interact with the narrative content. The third-floor sign has an eight-screen display that measures 240 inches by 52 inches. Both signs are programmed with content such as stock data, Google news, local traffic, and weather; profiles of Olin community members; a photo gallery slide show; social media content; and fun facts about the school and region.
The school integrated Microsoft’s content management platform SharePoint 2010 with digital signage software platform Four Winds Interactive to customize the content on each display. The software pulls information from Olin’s Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts to keep content fresh.
Before the signs were unveiled, the communications staff created a stockpile of “evergreen” content—such as student and faculty profiles and interesting facts about the school. They also follow a content calendar with deadlines to create new content throughout the year. Keeping the content stream flowing “seemed overwhelming a few months ago,” says Walker, “but now that it is up and running, it’s exciting to be able to push content out to a wider audience.”
Business schools often view the installation of digital signage as a way to add a “wow” factor to their facilities, but there’s more to it than that, says Adrienne Wartts, the school’s web content management specialist. Used correctly, she says, such signage can build community by providing “equal parts inspiration and information.”