Content - Part 2 - Do it yourself!

Last week, we've already talked about the importance of content for digital signage. The question that follows is:

"Where do I get content?"

There are two possible answers to this:

  • Create the content yourself or have it created by a professional.
  • Download suitable stock content

In this entry, we will first look at how to create or have content created, be it text or images.

It all starts with an idea...

The first thing, which you should consider is following thought:

What kind of content do we want to present?.

There is no universal answer to this question, but you as a company or individual must think about how you want to represent yourself.

If we take this website as an example and especially the video element on the main pages, then the basic idea was to emphasize the appropriate emotion for the respective area.

Where cloudMAX as a cloud product is represented through a video of a wide horizon high in the mountains and thus wants to arouse the feeling that cloudMAX offers unlimited possibilities, the video on the viewMAX site shows a red wine being poured into a wine glass, which is intended to highlight the class and style of the product. In addition, the wine glass is also a nod to the industries in which this product line is mostly found: restaurants and hotels.

The home page and hardware page, on the other hand, have more abstract references that are meant to evoke more general feelings. The home page sports a video with a strong local reference to Hamburg and is meant to emphasize us as a company with strong roots, whereas for the hardware page the classic TV still image is an anti-concept to what you are supposed to achieve with our hardware recommendations. The picture should make you smile nostalgically about times long gone, when still images were the norm.

Did we achieve what we had in mind? Good question, send me your take on it: fcoenen@netmax.de.

Basically, what I want to reveal with this example is that in the end there should be a coherent concept that determines what kind of content you want to put on your site or signage concept. If these questions are answered, then the rest is just some good old work.

Text content

As important as visuals are, especially in digital signage - text is not losing its importance. Where a picture says more than a thousand words, a text with just a few words can usually express much more precisely what you want to communicate to your customers.

Text content also has the advantage of being fairly easy to create: In virtually every web and digital signage solution it is possible to create text fields or fill text boxes. In the end, it is important that you transparently convey how you want to appear to the reader and what information you want to transmit.

As a tool to prepare text content, you can of course use the classic text editors, be it Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, OpenOffice Writer and whatever they are called.

You may also want to translate your texts into several languages. There are also different services for this. We ourselves use the free version of DeepL, since in my opinion the most natural translations are created there. But don't take my word for it, take a look for yourself: https://www.deepl.com/translator.

Otherwise, there are only legal and ethical limits to your creativity - so write away!

Image and video content

On the one hand, images and video content are clearly more impressive than text content, but they are also more complicated to create.

Image content

In web environments and especially in digital signage, image content is the absolute king of content types and essential for the success of a good signage concept. With great image content, you can give your signs or even your website that certain pizzazz. Some information can be more easily explained with a visual representation and can convey certain facts more precisely.

But how do you create image content? The question sounds banal, but let's take a look at it:

Let's make a rough distinction between photographs and creations.

  • Photographs are de facto snapshots of real objects, be it buildings, objects, people, animals, etc. They are taken with a camera.
  • Creations are self-created image content such as drawings, paintings, symbols, etc. These are created analogously by paper and pen or digitally in dedicated programs.

Photos are clearly easier to create for a beginner: In the age of smartphones, everyone has a more or less high-resolution camera with them at all times. But even here the question arises whether this is enough. And this question is also not so easy to answer. It depends on the concept. Otherwise there are of course more professional possibilities which again require know-how.

Content creator since 1826
Content creator since 1826

Creations on the other hand are mostly created professionally, because the differences in quality is a lot more noticable by the layman.

Hand made images as an eye-catcher
Hand made images as an eye-catcher

So no matter which way you choose: Always think about what are willing to invest for your content, be it time or money.

Image editing

Image content can of course be edited and for this there are different tools from paid ones like Adobe Photoshop or Corel Paintshop to free versions like GIMP or Paint.NET.

PAINT?! That has nothing to do with image editing! you may think.

I am not talking about the standard version, which is preinstalled in Windows, but about the open source program Paint.NET, which does not come close to the functionality of GIMP or the paid variants, but shines exactly because of this.

For amateurs, Paint.NET is the perfect introduction to image editing and especially shines for adding small changes such as the image or canvas size.

If by chance you are able to use IrfanView for viewing and possible mass editing, you have a great two-program solution, which both enjoy great community support and are both for free.

Unfortunately, I have to disappoint the Mac users among you a little bit, because both programs are not available there.

But the built-in preview of Mac OS is quite bearable and otherwise GIMP is my recommendation if it has to be for free.

The websites for the respective programs can be found here:

Videos

Now that's a special one: Videos. On the one hand very nice to look at, on the other hand, given the short attention span of users and customers, often not as effective. Therefore its important to think of a good concept or a suitable use case.

Video content is nothing without proper context: If videos are used for the web, the file size should be kept as small as possible; If the videos are played locally, the resolution should be as crisp as possible, etc.

Since this is beyond the scope of this entry, I'll leave a program recommendation here for those looking for more free solutions: DaVinci Resolve is the magic word and is often considered a good alternative to the likes of Adobe Premiere and Vegas Pro.

DaVinci Resolve can be found on the official website of BlackMagicDesign: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/de/products/davinciresolve/

Closing

Again, I could go on all day, but I don't want to try your patience any further.

In the end, it is up to you whether you want to make the effort to create the content yourself, have it created or use so-called stock content.

By the way, stock content will be the topic of the next week, because there I will present you the best sources for free stock content in my opinion!

As always, I'm always happy to receive feedback or suggestions, questions and answers, just send me a mail: fcoenen@netmax.de!

Thanks for tuning in!

Until then! Don't be a stranger!

Francesco Coenen

12.04.2021