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Digital Signage: Getting Your Content Right Builds Credibility

Aug 17, 2007
I recently received an email from a friend that made me think about how important accuracy is when communicating on a digital sign and how difficult it can be to attain.

The email said in part:

"I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is that the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae."

I don't know whether or not Cambridge University research actually found that as long as the first and last letters of a word are in the right place, the rest of the letters can be scrambled and the brain will figure it all out. What I do know is this phenomenon can make it extremely difficult to ensure you correctly spell words that appear on your digital sign.

Just ask copyeditors or proofreaders about the typos and misspellings they find every day in submitted manuscripts. They're common -even when the most talented authors submit works. Now think about the fleeting nature of the messaging on a digital sign, the fact that it's generated on a computer screen and not the printed page, and the hurry-up nature of creating such content and it's easy to see that consistently producing accurate messaging can be difficult.

Certainly those who are creating digital signage messaging can rely on technology to help. Where would we be without the spell check function? However, anyone whoever spends much time wordsmithing knows spell checks are only so good. They often confuse words, are befuddled by homophones -what is the difference between "compliment" and "complement" or "I'll," "aisle" and "isle" anyway?- and don't offer any help with many names, places or technical words and jargon.

True enough, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblins of little minds...." But he wasn't talking about consistency in spelling, grammar and usage.

I'll be the first to say I've made my share of mistakes over the years: using "wreckless" instead of "reckless," "irregardless" in place of "regardless," or just flat out overlooking jumbled spellings for the same reason that my friend's email was readable. But that's no reason to excuse such gaffes. When errors occur, I try to learn from them, avoid them in the future and move on. But moving on shouldn't be mistaken for disregard for accuracy.

Accuracy in business communications is vital. What would be the consequences of a title company inaccurately referencing a plot of land or a bank inaccurately recording a Social Security Number?

It's easy to see digital signage as an extension of television. After all, it uses the same sort of display, graphics and video as a television. But really, digital signage is just another business communications medium -one that makes a statement about the company in general and by extension the care with which management runs its organization.

Who could fault visitors to a corporation for wondering about that organization if the digital sign in the lobby welcoming them misspells their names? What would go through a driver's head if the digital sign in a car dealer's repair department said "We or committed to quality?"

After all, when it comes to business communication in general and digital signs in particular: "cnsincetsy in ugsae and aacrccuy in gmmraar are not the hglibobons of ltltie mdnis."
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media. Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons. For further insight, download my free white paper Why Digital Signage Works.
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