Any App State user can create and share appropriate university-wide messages with campus — news, events, deadlines, accolades and more. Having a Scala screen is not required.
Each slide has a short time frame to tell a story. The average attention span of your audience(s) is 7 ± 2 seconds. Well-designed, concise messages are critical.
The information below will help you plan and refine your message and create effective digital signage content.
What's the Message?
Slide Design Standards
Visit the University Communications website for information on branding, logos, colors, fonts, and stock photos that can be used in slides.
Start here! Digital signage should be part of your communications plan.
A communications plan is a document that describes how you are going to communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time.
The most important considerations are:
Who is your target audience(s)?
What is your goal(s)?
Review the University Communications’ communication planning page for more information.
Typically, digital signage should not be the sole source of information distribution. The information should exist elsewhere on your website.
Once you’ve drafted a communications plan and identified your audience(s) and goal(s), it’s time to think about your message.
What information do you want to share? What action(s) do you want the audience to take?
There are many types of informational slides that you might create to promote your area or organization. Suggested types of content include:
News and events
Honors and accolades
The message needs to be clear and concise.
Ask: What is the most critical information that I need to share?
Use these guiding questions to think about what details need to be included on your slide:
- WHO? Is there a speaker or presenter? A sponsoring club, department or organization?
- WHAT? For example, is the slide advertising an event or a deadline? Are tickets being sold? Is registration required?
- WHEN? Is there a date and/or time to include?
- WHERE? Is there a location to include?
- WHY it matters? What do you want the audience to know or do?
Is your slide promoting an event?
If your event is open to all — with no advance registration or tickets required — include the university’s accessibility statement on the slide: For a disability accommodation, visit odr.appstate.edu.
Websites and QR Codes
Typically, all slides should include a website link for more information. Do not include "https" or "www" — for example: digitalsignage.appstate.edu.
QR codes can be used in digital signage but should be paired with the website link in text form for accessibility.
In this example, a QR code is paired with a website link. The QR code points directly to the referenced article; the website link points to the main site.
Design Your Slide
Once you've finalized your message, it's time to design your slide. Begin by considering contrast — the visual difference in elements of your design.
- Contrast in size adds visual interest to your composition.
- Contrast in shape helps elements stand out.
- Contrast in color prevents elements from competing with each other.
Ultimately, contrast helps organize your design. And, it's important to select fonts, colors, graphics and a layout that engages the audience while taking into account readability and accessibility.
In these examples, the slide on the left, while readable, has no size, shape or color contrast; whereas, the slide on the right incorporates different font sizes and weights, colors, hierarchy and alignment.
Ready to design? The following programs are recommended for content creation:
Review the below slide design standards before you begin.
Acceptable File Formats
Scala CMS supports the following formats for uploads:
Images (jpeg, png or gif)
Scala CMS does not support PDFs, PowerPoint presentations or Google Slides.
Videos and/or Animated Slides
- Animated slides (10-15 seconds or less) and short videos (30 seconds or less) are appropriate for digital signage.
Because most campus players are not audio-enabled, videos should not rely on sound to convey the message. Instead, try combining images with captions or text.
Size and Orientation
Your slide should fit a standard television screen.
The minimum pixel dimensions and orientation are:
- 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Landscape/widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
Fonts and Readability
Your message matters — consider how it will be presented. Choosing the right font and font style can make or break your signage!
Choosing a Font
- Use large font sizes:
- 100+ point text suggested for headings — readable from 25 feet away by someone with normal eyesight.
- Avoid anything smaller than 35-point text — readable from seven feet away by someone with normal eyesight.
- Use standard sans serif fonts and limit to two fonts:
- Standard sans serif fonts include Arial, Avant Garde, Geneva, and Helvetica.
- Avoid fancy or gothic fonts.
- Stick to the basics — some fonts may not render properly on all players.
- Keep text simple and minimal:
- Format with titles, highlights or bullets.
- Avoid paragraphs!
- Use sentence structure:
- Reserve ALL CAPS or bold for text you want to call extra attention to.
- Ensure adequate spacing between each element and between letters.
- For example: 10 to 35% of stroke for letter spacing; 35-70% of letter height for line spacing.
Use the 3x5 rule: Limit the message to three (3) lines of text with a maximum of five (5) words per line or vice versa.
Read Adobe Express The Best Logo Fonts and How to Choose Your Own blog post to learn more.
Color can convey mood, provide contrast, aid readability and grab the audience’s attention.
Everyone connects with color and perceives color differently. How does red make you feel? How about blue?
Selecting a Color Palette
A color palette can aid your design — but it’s important to keep the palette harmonious and limited.
A good place to start is with App State's color palette which focuses on black and gold along with several other color options.
Learn more about color palettes and create your own:
- View the App State colors, including CMYK, RGB and HEX codes.
- Read Adobe Express 101 Brilliant Color Combinations blog post to learn more.
- Visit Adobe Color to create a color palette.
Design for Color Blindness
Red/green color blindness is the most common, so avoid green on red or red on green.
Other problematic color combinations are:
- Green and brown
- Blue and purple
- Green and blue
- Light green and yellow
- Blue and grey
- Green and grey
- Green and black
Insufficient contrast between text color and background color can make reading difficult.
- Black and white is the most readable combination.
- Use dark font colors on light backgrounds and vice versa.
- Avoid extremely bright colors as background colors.
When in doubt, check your color contrast ratios on WebAIM.
Images, Graphic Elements and Backgrounds
Images, graphic elements and backgrounds should complement your message. Don't add too much — less is more!
- Use hi-res, relevant images (that you have permission to use!).
- If using an image as a background, consider if the message text is readable. You may need to use a text overlay (opaque or semi-transparent backing box) to make text more readable over backgrounds.
University Communications maintains a database of stock photos — campus events, campus life, scenic views of campus and more — that can be used in slides.
Composition is how all of your design elements work together. A good composition should attract the viewer’s eye and guide it around.
The design program you choose will have margins and grids to help with the layout. Use these margins to leave a border (padding) or "safe area" around the inside of the slide to ensure text/graphics are not cut off.
Rule of thirds
- The rule of thirds breaks an image or composition down into thirds — both horizontally and vertically — so you have nine pieces and four gridlines.
- By positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions.
Organize content by hierarchy
- The most critical text and/or image should be the largest.
- Generally, design top-down — most critical to least critical, largest to smallest.
In this example, the title is the largest text and the most critical piece of information. The other text fields are of similar size and therefore, importance. A complementary image and QR code for registration is also included.
Design for Accessibility Checklist
Before you submit your slide to be shared campuswide, review it for accessibility.
Visit App State’s Accessibility webpage for general accessibility guidelines relating to creating accessible content. The information below serves as a final checklist when reviewing your content.
To comply with ADA standards, anyone creating slides is responsible for meeting these standards:
- Digital signage should not be the sole source of information distribution. The information should exist elsewhere on your website.
- Does your slide promote an event that is open to the all? Remember to include the university’s accessibility statement: For a disability accommodation, visit odr.appstate.edu.
- Keep font sizes large. 100-point text is readable from 25 feet; 35-point text is readable from seven feet.
- Use sans-serif fonts.
- Ensure adequate spacing between each element and between letters.
- Design for color blindness: Avoid red/green and other problematic combinations.
- Use text colors that have high contrast with the background color.
Visit Getting Started to view Appalachian's mounting accessibility guidelines.
Now that you've created content, reviewed it for accessibility, and downloaded it as an image or video file, submit it to be shared campuswide. You'll also find example slides from across campus on this page.