What is digital signage software?

7 min read
If you’re a progressive business using digital signage, you’ll be needing a content management system (otherwise known as digital signage software) to help run and manage your content. But why? What is digital signage software and how does it fit into your overall solution? We’ve aimed to answer all of your most common questions below.
What is Digital Signage Software?

Digital signage software simplifies managing the content displayed across your digital signage screen network. It's a cloud-based tool that allows you to send images, videos, and other content to your screens from any web browser, instantly.

If you have, or want to have, digital signage screens in your business and want to update the content on your screens using your computer remotely, you will need some form of digital signage software (also known as a content management system or ‘CMS’). 

You can alternatively use a USB, or the internal application on your screen, however this is a manual process which needs to be completed on each screen, every time you want to change that content.

Using a cloud-based digital signage CMS allows you to instantly send new images, videos and other content to one or all of your screens from any web browser, instantly.

What are the key features and benefits of a good digital signage software platform?

Below are our top 10 rated features, but you can check out a more in-depth look at all our licence inclusions here.

  • Intuitive Interface: A clean, simple and user-friendly interface design is so important. Often CMS’s are enterprise level and designed with a technical mindset, which include too many features that you simply won’t use. This often results in a cluttered interface that is too time consuming to use. Being able to intuitively use the solution is a must at any level, otherwise it will be too much effort to update your screens.
  • Hardware Options: Make sure the platform doesn’t require proprietary hardware which limits your choices, or adds additional cost for media players. The platform should run on all major brands of media players and commercial grade screens.
  • Cloud-based: Ideally the platform is cloud-based, meaning you can access it from any web browser. This makes updating your content easy, without needing to be on the same network, or having to plug in a USB.
  • Cost-effective: It's simple, don't overspend for features that you won't use.
  • Scheduling: One of the biggest benefits of digital signage is the ability to update and schedule your content ahead of time. Check that the way you schedule your content is quick and easy for you to manage.
  • Media Types: You'll want the ability to add images, videos and websites at the minimum. Don't go overboard, think about what you will actually be sending to your screen - simple is often better.
  • Grouping and Tagging: If you're managing a large number of screens, you'll need the ability to update any number of screens at one time, by either grouping them together or working in a simplified Tagging system. We recommend asking the software company for a demo of how this can work for you.
  • Content creation within the platform: Most digital signage software platforms these days will offer content templates for you to choose from and build yourself. If you are interested in this feature, make sure you have someone on your team who can follow the design process easily.
  • Flexibility: Ideally you want to find a software provider who is willing to work with you. For instance if you have feedback, require a certain feature or need custom branding. Chat with the software company and see how flexible they are willing to be.
  • Support: Make sure the platform has someone to contact if you have issues or questions. We recommend checking out reviews or speaking to other users about the customer service and support offered.
What are other names for Digital Signage Software?

You might have heard digital signage software be referred to as a Content Management System (CMS), cloud-based software, signage software, signage system, display software or advertising software, to name a few. The most common term that we use within the industry today is digital signage software.

Do I need a digital signage software platform?

Digital signage software will definitely make your life easier. Most screens will come with the ability to play content from a USB or via their on-board software. Often these are difficult and time consuming to use, as well as requiring you to manually update each screen. The result is minimal changes to content which reduces the relevance to your customers.

If you are going to rarely update the content on your screen, then using these features will be more cost effective.

If you want to inform and engage your audience by
keeping your content updated quickly and easily, we highly recommend using a digital signage software platform.

How does the software fit into my overall digital signage solution?

A basic digital signage solution is made up of three components:

  1. Hardware: including screen, media player (usually built into the screen), mounting, installation and networking
  2. Digital signage software
  3. Content to display on your screen

The software is the glue that holds your entire solution together!

To learn more on the components that make up a standard digital signage solution, check out our article What is Digital Signage? here.

Can digital signage work without the software component?

It can, but it will be a hassle. In the past, people would plug in USBs to their screens and allow the content to play that way.

This doesn't allow for any control over your digital signage, such as: creation of content, assigning of playlists, scheduling content for different times or days, or any other benefits a digital signage software platform offers today.

Plus, it can be a hassle to send out USBs to your locations each time you want to display new content, then relying on staff to plug that USB into each screen. If the screen is difficult to reach, or doesn't have a USB port - this causes more issues yet again.

Digital signage software takes away all the physical issues given it's cloud-based nature, while bringing in a wide range of added benefits.

How do I choose my digital signage software?

There are lots of options when choosing a digital signage software platform, and it can be overwhelming to know which is the right one for you.

To help with your decision, check out our article How to choose the right cloud-based software for your digital signage, here. 

We highly recommend firstly understanding the type of content you want to show on your screens, as well as how many screens you want to manage now and potentially in the future. Also whether you have the ability to create content yourself, or if you need a platform to help you with that. These starting points will help you identify the features you need so you don’t pay for functionality that you aren’t going to use. If you are only going to be managing a few screens, the licence you choose will likely be completely different to the one needed to manage thousands.

Make sure you aren’t locked to any specific hardware and can change platforms if your needs or requirements change in the future.

Finally, we recommend testing the platform yourself and getting on a demo to see how it all works, ask any questions you have and feel completely comfortable with what you are investing in.

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Most commonly, customers will be working with Integrators who are handling their digital signage hardware and can recommend a digital signage software platform to suit your needs.

Where do I buy digital signage software?

Digital signage software is generally sold as a commercial B2B product, meaning you will need to purchase it through your digital signage Integrator (who is providing your hardware and/or installation).

If you don't have an Integrator, get in touch with your preferred software platform and they will be able to help you.

If you have your own hardware and don’t require any assistance from an integrator, you can often purchase licences directly through the software company. However this then means you will need to support your own hardware, making sure the software works with what you have purchased and you have the ability to install the software onto your screens.

Will I need to pay a licence subscription?

Here at Fusion Signage, we offer our software on a payment duration of your choice between monthly, annual, three years, or five years. Our most common payment duration is 3 years as it coincides with most commercial-grade warranties on digital signage screens and is simply a one-off cost for the entire 3 years.

How many licences will I need?

One licence per screen.

Here at Fusion Signage we also offer a multi-screen licence for menu board installations. If you are using a media player displaying unique content on each screen, then it would be one licence per screen. If you have one media player being displayed across a 2x2 video wall (4 screens in total), this would only be one source (just larger!). Get in touch with us for more information.

Will the software run on any screen I choose?

These days you can find a software platform to run on almost any brand of commercial grade screen.

Fusion Signage, for example, is tested and compatible across all the major brands such as Philips, LG, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, JVL, plus all major platforms including: Windows, ChromeOS, Mac, Linux, Android (APK download and Google Play), WebOS, Tizen, BrightSign.

We always recommend testing the screen to ensure you can install the application prior to purchasing any licences.

Can I use a Smart TV with digital signage software?

We don’t usually recommend using a Smart TV for commercial applications as they aren’t designed for this environment. Usually SmartTV's limit the applications that can be installed on them. If your SmartTV has Google Play access, or the ability to install an Android APK (installation file), then Fusion Signage should be compatible. We highly recommend testing your specific TV using our free trial licence as we unfortunately don't provide hardware support for these devices.

What's the difference between a TV and a commercial grade screen?

While they may seem the same, commercial grade screens are specifically designed to last in business environments. In the same way you wouldn’t install a residential oven in a restaurant kitchen, commercial grade screens come with:

  • A commercial warranty to cover faults during the life of the product,
  • 16/7 or 24/7 warranted use,
  • Higher brightness and viewing angle,
  • The ability to be mounted in portrait or landscape orientation,
  • Scheduled on/off times each day,
  • Ability to open digital signage software automatically,
  • A range of size from small to very large
    Smart TV’s are only built to run for a few hours each day (normal TV watching), can’t be automatically turned on and off each day, and won’t boot into digital signage software.

still have questions?

We’d love to help make your digital signage journey as easy as possible.

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