What to Look For in a Digital Signage Platform
Digital signage platforms play an essential role in the creation and distribution of digital content. It’s also the technology that powers and manages the screen network, so it’s important to pick a solution that’s right for your needs.
It doesn’t matter if you’re launching a new digital signage project, expanding an existing network, or upgrading a legacy system. The digital signage platform you choose will have a huge impact on your project’s outcome.
What makes a good digital signage software platform?
Digital signage software systems usually include three main components:
- A content management solution is also called the CMS server.
- A user-friendly interface or visual dashboard that lets people upload, schedule, and publish their content.
- The media player software stores and plays content based on your programming.
Professional Content creation tools
Look for software that has built-in content creation tools so you can stay within your content management app without having to rely on third-party software. You will save time by not having to switch back and forth between apps. You will also save on training costs since you’re dealing with a single software platform.
Data-driven content and live feeds
Your digital signage software system should include advanced data-driven capabilities so you can display content based on simple rules. This will let you automate your programming so you can show different content based on real-time conditions.
For example, your media player software could start showing a specific image or video based on local weather conditions. Think of an ad for ice cream when it’s hot outside.
You should also consider software platforms that let you trigger content dynamically based on real-time events. Think of screens that automatically play evacuation notices during an emergency.
Support for live data feeds lets you display useful and timely information from RSS feeds, XML data, social media, or calendar apps.
Retail businesses and quick-service restaurants can also benefit from point-of-sale data support. Having the ability to retrieve live product and pricing data from your POS system is extremely useful and should be on top of your requirements when looking for a digital signage platform.
These features are no longer optional because everyone expects to see dynamic content on digital signage screens.
A feature-packed, easy-to-use CMS
Navori Labs is a leader in digital signage software. The company’s QL software platform features a content management tool with built-in template designer software so your teams can create and deploy content with ease. The company’s player software is available as a cloud and on-premise solution.
QL supports a wide range of media player devices, including:
- Windows PCs
- Navori’s own QL Stix 3700
- Android media player devices
- BrightSign media players
- Samsung Tizen SoC screens
- LG WebOS SoC screens
- Philips digital signage screens
Which is best… cloud-based or on-premise?
Most digital signage software platforms are available as cloud-based or on-premise versions. You should pick the solution that matches your profile.
Cloud-based digital signage software solutions are ideal for start-ups and small to medium-sized projects where you need to get up and running quickly. You benefit from low starting costs and you can scale up your screen network as your business grows.
On-premise software solutions are preferred by many digital signage network operators, financial institutions, and others who require total control over their data and servers. These would be established businesses that have the necessary resources to manage and support the platform’s infrastructure effectively.
Which hardware and operating systems does the software support?
Knowing which hardware devices and operating systems are supported is critical to evaluating different software solutions. It’s important when considering an on-premise solution since you’ll be considering which server hardware to use. It’s also important when you think about what will be playing content on your digital signage screens.
Digital signage player devices
This category includes Windows PCs, Android media player devices, and commercial media players from well-established manufacturers (BrightSign, for example).
External media players tend to be small devices that you can mount and hide behind your typical digital signage screen.
System-on-Chip Screens, and Smart TVs
Smart TVs have taken the consumer market by storm. These TVs have the media player hardware built right in, which helps keep the wiring behind the unit clean and makes installation easier. While many use consumer-grade Smart TVs for digital signage purposes, it’s important to note these screens are not designed for year-round, 24/7 operation.
Look for commercial-grade Smart TV models as they are a much better choice for digital signage use.
Consider multi-device support
When evaluating a digital signage software solution, consider which type of media player devices it supports. Ideally, you should look for a solution that can manage and play content natively across a range of devices, regardless of their brand or operating system.
Don’t settle on a solution that is only compatible with a few proprietary hardware devices as you’ll be locked in with a single vendor. Look for solutions that let you choose which hardware you want so you can take advantage of lower prices and better selection.
Here are some useful questions when evaluating digital signage player devices…
- Look for a CMS that lets you manage mixed hardware environments without having to reformat your content or programming. The process should be seamless.
- Don’t settle on a solution that requires a proprietary media player device. You should be able to choose which hardware you want for your project.
- Look for software that supports both external devices and Smart TVs. The more devices supported, the better.
- Consider CMS solutions that let you perform remote device management without the need for third-party software.
How good is the software publisher?
Digital signage software developers are constantly improving their solutions so they can take advantage of emerging new hardware features. As media player devices and smart TVs evolve, so must the digital signage system software that drives them.
When evaluating a digital signage software platform, ask yourself the following…
- Is this digital signage software solution regularly updated to take advantage of new hardware features and capabilities?
- Is the software designed to exploit the latest in digital signage technology?
- Does the digital signage software publisher constantly invest in research in development?
- How often is the software updated, improved, or patched?
- Does the publisher stand behind their product, and do they provide adequate support?
- Are there customer testimonials or references available so I can determine if this product is a good fit for my application?
- Does the developer provide useful technical documentation and video resources?
- How easy is it to learn and use the product?
- Is training provided, and how much training is required?
These factors will help you determine which digital signage platform is the right one for you.
About Navori Labs
Navori Labs is a leader in digital signage software. The company’s QL software platform features a content management tool with a built-in template designer so your teams can create and deploy content with ease. The company’s player software is available as a cloud and on-premise solution.