The Science Behind Digital Signage and Student Engagement

Posted by Nate Winans on Mar 22, 2019 12:56:23 PM

The Science Behind Digital Signage and Student Engagement

Are you curious about using digital signage in your cafeterias? You’re not alone - the digital signage industry in the U.S. is anticipated to reach $6.90 billion by 2025. That’s quite a jump considering the current digital signage market is only half that amount today. So why the big shift?

Well, let's think about the students you serve each day. This new generation of students, sometimes referred to as iGen or Gen Z, are digital natives that have never known a time without access to a smartphone or tablet. They grew up with technology at their fingertips and the ability to consume information from a screen. The iGen generation has grown accustomed to highly-visual, personalized communication; so it only makes sense that your cafeterias and schools should follow suit.

There are a number of benefits supporting the addition digital signage to your cafeteria.  But before you purchase, here are 3 things your nutrition program should consider:

1) Signals drive engagement

Humans are highly visual and can interpret visual cues extremely fast. The best digital signage take advantage of this fact to capture your attention using a number of layout components, also referred to as "signals". These signals may include videos, photo slideshows, different backgrounds, and a bottom ticker (like you see on many cable news networks). The combination of these competing signals are incredibly effective at cutting through all of the distractions in a busy cafeteria to captivate students.

With this in mind, look for a digital signage solution that provides multiple layout options and visual components.


MealViewer Digital Signage

2) Screen Size is Important

In the design world, most layouts leverage a Z structure for viewers to process information. People often scan from the top left to the top right, then down to the bottom left, and back to the bottom right. Nearly everything we read is designed with the Z structure in mind: apps, websites, newspapers, magazines, and digital signage.

Z Structure

In order to increase the effectiveness of the Z structure and your digital signage, it’s important to utilize signs that are the right size. Signage that is too wide or too tall can make scanning more difficult and your signage less effective.

Before purchasing your digital signs, take some time to carefully consider what information you plan to display. This will help determine what monitor size works best for the space it's used in. 

To facilitate this, we send sizing templates to each school that purchases Heartland MealViewer signs. They can hang the templates in their cafeterias to help determine the perfect size for a particular location. If your digital sign supplier doesn’t provide templates, we recommend making your own - all you need is paper and a pair of scissors!


3) Location, Location, Location

Understanding how and where students view your information plays an important role in determining the location of your signage. For instance, signage in a crowded hallway will need to only include information that can be read and understood quickly since folks will likely be walking by and have a few seconds to take in your messaging. Conversely, signage in or near the cafeteria line can have more content that takes a bit longer to comprehend since students are spending more time in this area.

Once you have decided to move forward with digital signage, begin to observe students to see which areas are heavily trafficked, where the most time is being spent, and the areas where students are rushing to get to class. Take into consideration stairs or poles that could obstruct the view of your signage and what height would work best for placement. Once you've taken the time to make some observations it will help with determining where to locate your signs and what content you'll want to display where.

The expectations of this tech-savvy generation will likely drive many schools to adapt how they communicate with students, and digital signage can be a big piece of that puzzle. With these considerations in mind, you can feel confident you're utilizing this new tool to the best of it's abilities.


Connections Blog 


Topics: MealViewer, Digital Signage