“What are the pros and cons of combining different types of messaging (such as wayfinding and advertising) in one display?”
Establishing the right content mix in digital experiences:
Digital experiences have the tremendous benefit of allowing several types of communications to be displayed. In order to maximize this benefit, it is important to begin with a proper content strategy. As part of this strategy, establishing the right mix of content is a key element. To do this, we must first understand clearly who the target audience is. This is critical to establish in order to ensure the content will be observed and not deselected. Establishing some personas for the different types of individuals that will view our experience is a good start. Then, we must observe and build empathy for them by learning their desires, values, needs and most importantly, purpose of visit. Once we know this, we must consider what type(s) of content they would expect to see, what types of content they would not want to see, and what types of content would be a surprise to see that would complement their expected result.
In the context of a wayfinding screen for example, the main purpose of the screen would likely be to display maps or guidance to locate specific points of interest throughout a physical environment. In some cases, this is all you would want to display so that an audience in transit with a short attention span can quickly find the information they need to proceed to their desired destination. This would be very true in a busy transportation hub like a bus station at peak periods like rush hour. Travelers would want to quickly look at the screen, see where they need to head and move along. Adding additional content to this type of screen could prove challenging as you would not want to confuse or slow down travelers on the go. This could be a negative experience and a fail in the optimal content mix.
However, we may find instances where some complementary content could prove useful. For example, let’s say that this wayfinding screen was in a retail mall. The intended target audience would likely be prospective shoppers of the mall looking for retail shops or related services. In this example, it could be very complementary to highlight some of the stores, amenities and dining locations throughout the mall. Aside from just showing where they are located in a map, perhaps highlighting featured shops, available services they offer and maybe even some promotions or events they may be having would be beneficial to the audience. This could even help to drive them to these specific locations within the mall. Not only would this be beneficial to the visitor, but it could also be very beneficial to the specific shops being highlighted. This could also be a great opportunity for the mall property owner (likely the owner of this type of digital experience) to perhaps subsidize the costs for the screen with the tenants of the mall who could now use this as an advertising vehicle. Other types of communications like mall hours, special events, and even local community initiatives that may be taking place in the mall would also prove complimentary to the experience and relevant to the intended target audience.
Of course, there are exceptions to both of these examples and so many other variables to consider when developing a content strategy. Since no two experiences will be the same, and there are so many different types of potential target audiences, it is wise to work with an integrated digital experience firm that can help you first establish a content strategy to shape the experience and then help recommend the best content mix to ensure success.