Whether you want to show content on one display or a thousand, digital signage software will provide you with the tools to manage and deploy content from your computer to your network of displays.
In this chapter, we’ll discuss how to control and manage your display network’s content using a digital signage content management system.
- What is a digital signage content management system (CMS)?
- What will a digital signage CMS allow me to do?
- Top 5 features to look for in finding the best CMS
What is a digital signage content management system (CMS)?
A digital signage content management system is the centerpiece and arguably the most important part of any digital signage software.
“A digital signage content management system is a computer application that allows for the customization, scheduling, monitoring, and deployment of content across a network of digital displays.”
Digital signage content management systems speak directly to your player
Think of your CMS as mission control for your digital signage network. Content management systems can be accessed using your computer in one of two ways, depending on your digital signage software provider:
- Web-Based/Cloud-Based – Your content management dashboard is hosted on your provider’s website, with all of your data saved in the cloud.
- Desktop Download – Your content management dashboard is a downloadable program that runs on your computer’s desktop.
Most modern providers offer a web-based CMS. Through the website, you will have a username and password to log in and access your dashboard. A major benefit of using a web-based content management system is the ability to log in to your dashboard from more than one computer, which also makes it easier to get multiple users started.
What will a digital signage CMS allow me to do?
Digital signage content management systems are essentially the control system for the content playing on your network. Generally, a digital signage CMS will allow you to:
Browse, Create and Customize Content
Within your CMS dashboard, you’ll be able to browse and customize various content ‘packages’ or ‘apps’ for your display. Different providers offer different content, however some of the more popular packages typically include graphics and video, weather, and news. Within each package, you’ll be able to tailor the content to your business (e.g. input area code for weather, upload your own images for graphics).
An example of Enplug’s digital signage content management system.
Another feature of a content management system is content scheduling. After choosing what content you want to show on your display network, you’ll be able to schedule it based on display, location, time and even day. For example, let’s say your business has a New Year’s special going and you want to show an advertisement for it during normal operating hours from December 26 to January 1. Content scheduling will allow you to do just that.
Monitor Network Health
One of the most important aspects of any digital signage network is health and monitoring. Your CMS should offer you an easy-to-use dashboard for monitoring real-time statuses of every display in your network. That way, if a screen or location happens to run into an issue (such as an internet or power outage) you’ll be able to pinpoint where the issue is, and restart or service your player or display.
An example of Enplug’s network health dashboard.
Top 5 features to look for in finding the best CMS
To help make your shopping experience easier, here are the 5 absolutely essential features to look out for when choosing a digital signage software and CMS:
1. Easy-to-Use Dashboard
The digital signage software industry is filled with content management dashboards that are both inefficient and confusing to understand. It’s not uncommon to see a provider recommend more than twenty hours of training, just to get started!
When choosing a digital signage software, be sure to factor in how intuitive the provider’s dashboard is to use. Before spending any money, you shouldn’t need more than an hour of poking around to understand how to control your content. Enplug focuses on creating a platform that is easy to use while still providing cutting-edge, industry-leading tools to customize your experience.
Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating how intuitive a CMS dashboard is: How long is it taking you to familiarize yourself with it? Does it take a lot of clicks to get from one place to another? Does it have a modern feel to it? How convenient is the navigation? You can request a demo or free trial of the CMS you’re considering to help you answer these questions.
2. User Control
For those who have a chain of locations, user control will be an important feature to look out for. Look for a CMS that allows for control at any scale, including a single display, a location with multiple displays, or a chain of locations.
Another factor to consider is user accounts. You may want individual locations to be able to control their own content using their own username and password (very common for chain businesses). You may need only one user account, or you may need 50. Make sure the CMS you choose allows for the number of user accounts you think you’ll need.
3. Automated Software Updates
In 2015, you shouldn’t have to spend time updating your software—it should happen automatically. Some providers will even require you to pay for upgrades. You should never pay to have the best version of your digital signage software.
Also, be sure to find out how often your provider updates their software. Is it every week? Month? Year? The more frequent, the better. (As long as they’re not charging you, that is.) It means they are working, fixing any bugs and making their software run smoother.
A commonly overlooked feature within digital signage software is data security. Like any software, your provider should offer the highest level of data encryption and protection. Enplug, for example, offers SSL encryption and 24x7x365 network monitoring.
5. Service & Support
Just like any software, you will have questions and need support at some point during your experience. Check out your provider’s support resources to gauge how active they are in helping their customers. Do they have online resources like a support center? What times are they available for phone support? Do they have in-dashboard chat? Features like this are important for a seamless experience.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what role a content management system plays in your digital signage software solution, and how to pick the best one.
Chapter 1: How To Display Digital Signage Software Using a Player
Chapter 2: Using A Digital Signage Content Management System
Chapter 3: Examples of Great Digital Signage Content
Chapter 4: Digital Signage Software Pricing, Companies, and Comparison