The objective was to modernize the University Centre using digital signage in strategic locations in addition to a central video wall to further enhance the experience of being in the University Centre courtyard. The project involved the creation of a managed content program that uses an intelligent mix of the highest quality motion graphics. Westbury National was tasked with creating a common digital signage platform to unify campus digital signage through standards and direction with the University Centre Installation. It has become the showcase Canadian University for digital signage content
Nominating Company: Westbury National, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Venue: University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Project: Digital Signage @ The University Centre
Category: Educational Environments
Prior to this project, the University did not have standards for digital signage hardware or content. As individual installations were appearing, it became important to create a program that could unify existing installations and set a future path for new installations. The University’s project goal included the creation of guidelines and standards for digital signage installation and content creation.
We needed a program that would engage our diverse audience of students, staff, and faculty, so we created a content plan that balances education, encouragement, emotion, and entertainment in our loop. We ensured that content stays fresh and updated and that the loop length matched the dwell times of the planned sign locations.
In the past, each department was responsible for their own content, but with limited resources, they were never able to manage more than a few pieces of static content, which were ineffective. We needed to create a syndicated network for digital signage content sharing.
Learning from failed digital signage installations in the past, it was important for us to create a managed content program that ensured quality consistency and availability of content for the campus. Since our new standards disallowed static content on digital signs, we came to understand that there were very few motion graphics resources on campus and the cost to use third-party external would have been prohibitive given the amount of content that was planned for the program. Since we are an educational institution, a large external advertising recovery plan would not have been accepted. Although advertising policies existed currently on campus, they were far too broad for digital signage, and through past experience, we learned that new guidelines needed to be created for this digital medium. It was very important to ensure, given the scope and quality guidelines of the project, that we made it self-sustaining for the future of the program.
The first step to addressing all of the challenges with digital signage was to dedicate a digital signage champion for the campus. From this, The University of Guelph started to develop quality and best practice guidelines for content creation. Understanding that motion graphics are the best way to captivate attention, we created a minimum standard that required motion graphics on all content. Static JPGs were not permitted. Understanding this skill was not prevalent on campus, we created a cost recovery motion graphics design service as part of this project. We employed our own full-time designers at a cost point that wouldn’t be a barrier for departments to use. We created a diverse content review team from key stakeholders on campus that reviews every piece of content for compliance, quality, and accuracy before it is allowed on the screens. To ensure sustainability, we sell 20 percent external advertisement to supplement additional costs.
We launched our new sign program for the Fall semester with a managed content loop of 15 minutes, which included more than 85 pieces of unique content. The program ensures that we are true to our defined content mix and follows practices to change our content on a weekly basis. The reception of the signs has been tremendous, and we have clearly met the goal of modernizing the University Centre. Support from other departments, campus police, and the executive office has been great, and plans for future initiatives have already started. The response to our motion graphics design service has been so overwhelming that we have already had to hire additional design resources only a couple months into the launch. The success of this program has led to further expansion of the program to other buildings through financial support and support from the office of the President
University of Guelph