Digital Signage Evaluation Guide

Regardless of what you’re considering digital signage for, the number of options can be overwhelming. With choices from USB sticks to extremely complex hardware, it is hard to navigate through the maze of digital signage solutions.

Chris Holland
May 15, 2019
IT

Here are the steps we’ve learned help people (whether they chose Playlister or another platform) to find the best digital signage platform for them.


Scalability


Scalability is extremely important if you need to display things on screens that are not geographically close to each other. If all your displays are in close proximity to each other, but you have plans to add more, it may be worth factoring this into your decision criteria.


USB sticks are the least scalable of digital signage options. This is because the only way to get your content onto a display is to have somebody plug the USB stick into it. If you have a small facility and aren’t too concerned about controlling content once it is saved to the USB sticks, this could be an appealing option.


Reliability


A display that is not working is worse than no display at all. Reliability is typically a huge factor in criteria for a digital signage platform for this reason. Networks and hardware have the biggest impact on reliability, here is what you need to know about them.


Hardware can affect your platform’s reliability when there are lots of different machines and cables that must be connected to a display. Loss of power, damaged/faulty parts, and user error can affect how reliable your solution is from a hardware standpoint (ie, when someone has to connect a laptop to a coaxial cable to a switcher to HDMI cable to a display…).


Your network can ruin your signage performance even if you have all the perfect hardware in place. If your digital signage platform is dependent on a network connection to play media, you’ll likely experience a lack in performance when bandwidth is strained. If your platform is on a WiFi connection, media may take longer to load or run depending on network speeds (using ethernet whenever a network is required can greatly improve your results).


Playlister uses hardware to hedge against the risk of a bad network. Your media is cached to the Playlister device and will run offline, creating a bulletproof playback experience.


Control


I promise that I don’t have any personal beef with USB sticks (alright, that’s not true. The cloud isn’t the future, it’s the present and those pieces of wasted plastic should be extinct by now), but they offer the lowest amount of control to a user. Once you have loaded your content onto a USB stick, those media files are stuck in whatever order you’ve created and there’s nothing you can do to change it.


With Playlister all adjustments made to media will reflect in the feed in less than a minute, several cloud-based platforms give you control over your content that can be very valuable.


Convenience


USB sticks are so inconvenient that anyone who values their time will get sick just thinking about the logistics they require. Beyond everything highlighted in scalability, it is burdensome to have people loading content onto USB sticks and then manually engaging with the display in order for the feed to run.


Another core consideration of convenience is ease of use. You need to be sure that everyone who plays a part in your digital signage environment understands the platform that you are using. Extensive onboarding procedures with recurring troubleshooting will be a productivity drain on everyone involved.


A great way to gage convenience is simply by combining these two factors: how many steps does it take to move media from your files to your displays and how much training is required for your team?


Budget


While USB sticks are nearly free, they come with major inconveniences (like distribution and lack of scalability). On the other side of the signage spectrum, some solutions are so expensive that you don’t know how anyone could possibly afford them.


If you’re like most people, the best price is as little as possible. This is always the case when you look at how a signage solution affects your entire budget (USB sticks are not the lowest cost solution due to the cost of inefficiency). To avoid the headaches of low-end platforms and also refrain from throwing money at expensive solutions that cover far more than what you need, it is important to start with a needs assessment.


Refer to previous steps and determine how much scalability, reliability, control, and convenience your organization needs. There is no cookie-cutter way to do this (I’ve worked with organizations that had very user-specific requirements). If you’ve already thought very hard about these fields, that’s great!

Take the Digital Signage Evaluation Quiz to see what your needs are: Find your needs now.