Choosing a Digital Signage Software Provider: Questions to Ask and Factors to Consider

Faith Ngaruiya
May 13, 2024

When you run a quick Google search with the keyword “digital signage software”, you’re met with many options. It might not be the best time-saving idea to go through each of them. The quickest way to make a short list is to find digital signage-related publications that often review and compare digital signage solutions. This will give you an unbiased starting point so you can take note of providers that meet your criteria. 

Alternatively, you can refine your search queries to target your specific needs. You could be industry-specific,  for example, “digital signage software for retail” or feature-specific like "digital signage software with audience analytics". Now with a few potential contenders in mind, it's time to discover if they truly have what you need. This guide outlines essential factors for consideration and important questions that will inform your final decision. 

Key Factors to Consider

  1. Ease of Use

A key ingredient in your digital signage success is software that doesn't make your life difficult. It should have an intuitive interface, drag-and-drop functionality, clear navigation, and visual previews to simplify content creation and management. 

Evaluate how easy it is to import videos, images, and text, and check for pre-built templates and how easy they are to customize. If your software has a steep learning curve, it will lead to frustration, delays, and potential underutilization of your investment. 

  1. Functionality and Features

Digital signage software is supposed to cut down the time you spend creating content and updating your screens. Here is a full list of absolute must-have features: 

Customizable Templates: Depending on your industry, check whether it has campaign-specific templates for your most common use cases. This should include themed templates for major holidays and seasons. 

Broad Media Support: Most software in the market has this feature in the form of inbuilt apps such as YouTube, social media platforms, RSS feeds, and popular visualization tools such as Power BI. 

Scheduling Tools: So that you have total control over when and where specific content appears, including setting start/end dates and recurring schedules.

Targeted Display: Different locations often require different types of messaging, so your software should make it easy to assign content to specific screens or groups of screens. 

Content Zoning: Your software should have the functionality to create multiple layouts that divide your screen into zones so that different content types can display simultaneously. 

Some solutions even offer audience measurement tools that provide insights into viewership and engagement. If you want to add an extra layer of interaction, consider software that allows for touchscreen elements like polls or quizzes.

  1. Scalability

Ideally, your chosen solution should grow alongside your business. Think about future expansion plans – will you need to add more screens or deploy signage across additional locations? In this case, you need software that can handle an increasing number of displays and users without sacrificing performance. It should also be compatible with a range of hardware, giving you the flexibility to use different screen types or brands as your needs evolve. 

  1. Security

Security is of paramount importance in any digital system, and your digital signage network is no exception. Your chosen software provider should take measures to protect your content and any collected user data. Look for solutions that emphasize encryption, especially when transmitting data between displays and the management platform. Inquire about security protocols in place to prevent unauthorized access or network vulnerabilities. 

  1. Pricing and Support

Different software providers offer various pricing models, such as subscription-based plans (monthly or annual) or one-time licensing fees. Carefully compare pricing structures with your budget in mind and ensure you consider any additional costs for features or support. 

Questions to Ask Digital Signage Software Providers

Questions to Ask Digital Signage Software Providers

Demo and Trial

Question 1: Can you provide a demonstration and a free trial of your software?

If you head to the website of most software providers, you'll see that you have the option to book a demo. If you’ve gone through some of the features outlined on the website and you feel impressed, sign up for the demo to see the features in action. It’s also a good time to ask questions specific to your business and clarify the extent of the functionalities to meet your needs. 


Question 2: Does your software integrate smoothly with our existing systems?

Most signage software already comes with ready-made connectors from platforms such as Zapier so you can connect your point-of-sale systems, inventory systems, and data analytics tools. You'll often only need to provide your login credentials or authentication keys for these to work. 

But if you're thinking of something more customized, inquire whether the software has API capabilities. Using them, your developers can create integrations to pull data from less common sources or establish unique interactions between your signage and other systems within your organization.

Content Creation Tools

Question 3: What tools and templates do you provide for content design?

The ideal digital signage software simplifies the process of creating compelling content. A broad selection of pre-designed templates, customizable to align with your brand guidelines, offers a significant time-saving benefit. Seek out templates specifically designed for your industry (e.g., menus for restaurants, product promotions for retail), as these will further streamline your workflow.

The software should offer intuitive drag-and-drop tools for arranging elements like images, text, and video. This eases the layout design process and minimizes the need for specialized graphic design knowledge. 

Hardware Compatibility

Question 4: What hardware brands/types does your software support?

First, find out which operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS, etc.) the software is compatible with. Then, inquire about the specific media player brands that work well with the platform. Some software providers may even have their own media players or recommended hardware specifications.

To avoid limitations, look for solutions that offer broad compatibility across various screen types, sizes, and manufacturers. This will give you the freedom to choose hardware that aligns with your budget and display needs without worrying about software compatibility issues.

Support and Updates

Question 5: What level of support do you offer, and how are updates handled?

In most cases, software providers have a knowledge base on their website with guides, tutorials, and answers to common questions that help you troubleshoot most issues on your own. However, when you need more direct assistance, inquire about their support channels (phone, email, live chat) and response times. Look for dedicated support teams and clear service level agreements.

Find out whether the software updates are automatic or manual and how frequently they are released. Regular updates are essential for patching security vulnerabilities, addressing bugs, and sometimes even introducing new features.

Case Studies

Question 6: Can you share examples of successful implementations in businesses similar to ours?

Nothing demonstrates the real-world value of digital signage software better than concrete examples. Request case studies or success stories that highlight how the provider has helped businesses within your industry. Pay close attention to the specific challenges the case study addresses and the achieved results. Ideally, look for examples where the metrics align with your own goals (e.g., increased sales, improved customer engagement, streamlined communication).

Additional Considerations

Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise

When evaluating digital signage solutions, you'll encounter two primary deployment options: cloud-based and on-premise. 

Cloud-based solutions host your data and software on the provider's servers, accessible via the Internet. This brings advantages like easy scalability, remote access, minimal upfront hardware costs, and the provider handling updates and maintenance. However, it does require a stable internet connection, may involve recurring subscription fees, and offers less direct control over data security. 

On the other hand, on-premise solutions mean installing the software on your own servers and hardware. This grants you full control over data and network security and doesn't rely on internet connectivity. But, it also demands dedicated IT resources, a higher upfront investment, and involves handling updates and maintenance yourself. The best choice for you will depend on your organization's specific needs for flexibility, control, budget, and your IT infrastructure.

Offline Functionality

Reliable digital signage means your displays shouldn't go blank due to network hiccups. Choose software that supports offline content playback by caching content locally on your media players. This ensures a continuous viewing experience for your audience even if internet connectivity is disrupted.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose software with an intuitive interface, drag-and-drop functionality, and clear navigation to streamline content creation and management.
  • Look for essential features like customizable templates, broad media support, scheduling, targeted display, and content zoning. Consider advanced features like audience measurement and interactivity if they align with your goals.
  • Your software should accommodate growth in your digital signage network – more displays, users, and locations. Ensure compatibility with various hardware options for flexibility. 
  • Prioritize providers that protect your content and any collected user data. Look for solutions emphasizing encryption and robust security protocols.
  • Compare pricing models (subscription vs. one-time) and factor in any additional costs for specific features or support levels. Look for accessible support teams and regular software updates.
  • Your software should work flawlessly with your existing hardware and integrate smoothly with other systems you use (data analytics, inventory management, etc.).
  • Consider the benefits and drawbacks of cloud vs. on-premise solutions. Cloud-based solutions offer easy scalability and remote access, while on-premise solutions provide greater control over data and security.
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