855-232-8263 ( 855-2-DATANET )
Request a Quote

How to Choose Digital Signage: A No-BS Buyer’s Guide


Navigate the selection considerations you need to make when buying digital signage with this no BS guide.

Digital signage as a marketing vehicle isn’t what it was just a few years ago. Back then, all you really needed was a monitor and content, and the forethought to change it up every once in a while. But times have changed (for the better!), and new displays, management options, and functionality are giving businesses more flexibility than ever before.

Of course, that also means there’s a lot more to consider in your decision-making. Use this no-BS guide to choosing the right digital signage solutions for your business and skip the hassle.

Setting Goals for Digital Signage

First things first: how are you planning to use your signage?

Digital signs can accomplish a variety of business objectives: advertisements for products and services in-store, information for students or employees, playing promotional videos, third-party advertising, digital menus or other “static” information, the list goes on.

It’s essential to start with the end in mind because the content you create and the intentions behind it will ultimately guide your buying decisions.

If you aren’t sure about your use cases, both in the short and long terms, now is the time to get specific on your needs so you won’t end up making the same investment twice in a short time span.

Choosing a Display

Buying a digital signage display is a bit more complicated than buying a TV. Most people start with screen size and resolution, but things like color and anticipated viewing distance will also factor into the decision.

As a general rule, most manufacturers recommend choosing a display whose content can be viewed at 1.5x to 2.5x the diagonal measurement of the screen. You’ll also need to consider the color of your content to ensure your screen will display it appropriately.

Here a few other considerations to prioritize:

  • Indoor vs. outdoor display
  • Touchscreen functionality
  • Height of display compared to the viewer (eye level, overhead, etc.)
  • Cost compared to quality

LED vs LCD Screen

Today’s digital signage screens give you two options: Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Light Emitting Diode (LCD) displays. The one you should invest in depends on several factors, including viewing distance, display location, and cost.

For small displays that are going to be viewed up close and indoors, LCD makes a desirable choice. LCD displays are usually less expensive and come in high-quality 1080P and 4K UHD options. There are some LCD displays that are rated for outdoor use and can stand up to the temperatures and humidity, but most models will require some form of enclosure to protect the monitor.

LED displays are more versatile, ranging from small tabletop displays up to screens 100 feet or more. These displays are often used outdoors, thanks to the greater viewing distance and higher level of brightness. Many people opt for LED displays because of the brightness factor alone, ranging from 4000 nits to 8000 nits and giving direct sunlight a run for its money.

LED screens are more expensive than LCDs, but application should take priority over budget. Depending on viewing distance and screen location, one option will almost always be better than the other.

Digital Signage Software and Hardware

If you’re opting for a DIY solution to digital signage, you’ll need to pick your own software and hardware to create and manage your content. In the past, all you really needed was design software and a USB drive. If you have a single monitor, this still might suffice. But keep in mind that for every monitor you buy, you’ll have a USB drive attached to it. For some companies, this isn’t easily managed at scale. You’ll need to investigate other content delivery options, such as remote loading.

In some cases, there’s a risk of a single data connection error affecting all monitors and modules. When this happens, none of your signs will be readable until the issue is resolved.

The benefit of using a digital signage company is skipping this step altogether. Outsourced digital signage handles the content creation, loading, and management for you so you can take a hands-off approach and gain peace of mind that everything is set up and functioning correctly. If something does go wrong, your provider will handle the troubleshooting.

Offline Functionality

The internet doesn’t always work when and how it’s supposed to. If it goes down, you won’t want your content to go down, too. Consider solutions that will allow the show to go on when you’re having connectivity issues so there’s no loss in functionality.

Content Creation and Management

Businesses can outsource the content creation and management to a digital signage company, or they can do it themselves. On the surface, digital signage cost is lower with a DIY approach, but the value doesn’t often match.

Companies that specialize in digital signage are better positioned to design for your specific screen. They have proven systems and processes for content delivery, management, and even troubleshooting to save you time and ultimately lower your bottom line costs. Otherwise, you may end up spending too much time trying to get the right dimensions or figuring out issues that otherwise wouldn’t exist if you worked with a reputable company.

On-site vs Cloud Based Management System

As you’re considering content creation options, you’ll also need to decide how to execute the loading and management and where your content will live. Some companies prefer to upload their content to their own on-site servers because it gives them complete control over setup and deployment. It’s more expensive up front, but the ongoing costs are significantly lower.

However, many of these factors hold true with a cloud-based content management system. Cloud-based solutions scale with your business needs and can accommodate as many monitors as necessary.

One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is the lack of local IT support required for execution. On-site content will require the expertise of local IT professionals to maintain the servers, test connections, and deploy the content. IT will also be involved in deploying a cloud-based solution, but not nearly to the extent of an on-site server.

Next Steps

Clearly, it’s not just a matter of choosing a display, but rather how that display will help you to reach your overall goals and continue to drive business results over time.

There is no one size fits all for digital signage solutions, but exploring your options can help you make a more informed buying decision.

Got questions? Let us be your guide — reach out today for digital signage solutions that can add impact to your business and value to your bottom line!