What is a Digital Building Directory?
Digital building directories are a digital display that uses digital signage software (directory software) and a digital sign to display the layout of a building, as well as wayfinding instructions and wayfinding maps, to help visitors better navigate the space.
There are many different types of buildings that make good use of digital building directories, such as commercial and residential properties, malls, airports, office buildings, hospitals, schools, places of worship, hotels, government buildings, entertainment venues and more.
There are many different types of digital building directories with different levels of functionality. For example, an electronic directory might simply be a screen installed in a wall outside a residential building with a media player that displays tenet listings, along with leasing information for potential new tenants.
Another option is an interactive directory.
With more advanced digital signage solutions (directory solutions), equipped with responsive content management systems and high quality commercial grade screens or installations, such as digital signage kiosks and other turnkey installations, some directory displays may have have touchscreens, allowing users to make use of interactive apps and real-time information relevant to the space they are entering.
In this article, we cover the benefits that businesses, real estate properties, consumer spaces, and all sorts of businesses can derive from investing in a digital building directory.
Moreover, we will cover in depth the different kinds of digital building directories, as well as important considerations to take into account when choosing the right directory system for your property or establishment.
The Benefits of Digital Building Directories
There are many benefits that come with installing a digital building directory. Of course, some benefits will be more clear for some types of businesses over others, but this discussion of benefits should give you a broader understanding of the dynamic functionality available to you if you use digital directory signs and installations.
1. Digital directories are easy to update, so that the information displayed is always correct. For example, if a new tenant moves to a building, the property manager can quickly update the templates to reflect the accurate tenant information.
For this type of information, a small video wall might suffice, though there are certainly options for functionality optimization. For example, the screen could be interactive, allowing visitors to click on a name in the directory and find the phone number of their friend living in the building.
Another example of the importance of easily updated information on a much bigger scale, would be a digital directory of an airport.
While people who fly frequently are used to watching the digital displays giving real time information, in the form of tickers, about check-in locations and flight gates, it can still be difficult for both those accustomed to flying and those new to it, to actually find out where you need to go.
This can be a major hassle if you have a lot of luggage, small children, or are on a tight time schedule. A digital directory installed in an airport could give wayfinding maps with floor plans, and it could display the real-time check-in locations or flight gates, making it easy for flyers to know not just what they are looking for but also where to find it.
On top of that, the interactive directory will likely have options to choose the language displayed, making it easier for international flyers.
2. Logos, colors, and fonts are highly customizable, so that you can ensure that your digital directory stays consistent with your brand identity.
3. Digital directories, especially those that take the form of digital signage kiosks, can add considerable aesthetic appeal to your building, creating a great first impression and improving the visitor experience by allowing them to quickly access important information about the space.
4. You can use your content management system to schedule different types of content for your playlists depending upon the time of day or day of the week, so you can display relevant information in real-time.
A good example would be displaying traffic maps during busy times in the area. So, if a person is leaving your building, they would be able to get accurate and useful information, leaving a good impression on them, even as they leave.
5. Digital directories are great for catching attention. With high quality directory software, you can display videos and animations to draw the eyes of those who are passing by.
6. As implied above, interactive directories enable self-service when navigating places of business, lowering the amount of time it takes for a person to find what they are looking for, thus improving the visitor experience.
7. Can increase visitor engagement by displaying real-time social media posts relevant to the building and the places of business.
8. Digital building directories can generate additional revenue for property managers by selling ad-space to tenants and other local businesses.
9. Replacing a traditional building directory with a digital directory can actually save a lot of money in the long term. It can be quite expensive and take a considerable amount of time to update traditional building directories, especially in places like malls and airports.
On the other hand, after the initial investment in a digital directory from your chosen provider, it is totally free and easy to update the directory. Moreover, the upfront costs for a digital directory need not be terribly steep.
Sure, there are many expensive options out there. But when you go with a digital signage solution provider like Loop TV, you get high quality digital signage functionality absolutely free.
10. Often, a large space like a mall or a corporate company building will have multiple directories. The benefit of having multiple directories in a space is that people have easy access to the information that the directories provide. It wouldn’t make much sense for a mall to have a single digital or traditional directory.
With multiple entrances, guests would have to search for the directory to even get the wayfinding information that they are looking for, thus defeating the purpose of making this information easily accessible in the first place.
This can be fixed with multiple directories strategically placed around the space. You can imagine how much work it would take to update multiple traditional directories. But with digital directories, you can usually manage all the directories through a single platform.
Now that we know the benefits of digital directories, we can talk about the different components you may find in digital building directories.
Components of Digital Building Directories
Digital building directories are a type of digital signage, an increasingly used tool for mass communication that comprises both software and hardware components.
With digital signage software and hardware, you can create a centralized information distribution platform, as well as make use of content creation templates, content management, playlist curation scheduling, and more. From this central platform, you can transmit various types of media content to one or more digital displays.
The central components of a building directory system include:
1. Display Screen
Digital building directories can be displayed on pretty much any modern digital screen. This can include consumer grade television screens, LED video walls, tablets, commercial-grade screens, and digital signage kiosks.
While it is not necessary to have the most high tech screen, it is good to keep in mind that commercial-grade screens have a number of advantages over consumer-grade screens. Typically, commercial-grade screens can remain in operation longer, get brighter, look more aesthetically in place in commercial environments and provide for either horizontal or vertical orientations.
Digital signage kiosks also have their own advantages. First, they can look aesthetically pleasing. Secondly, they usually have touchscreen functionality, allowing for an interactive experience.
2. A Media Player
Media players, which are also called digital signage players, download content from the digital signage software either through internet connection or cables, and then, through cables or bluetooth devices displays your content on the screens.
It should be noted that while commercial-grade screens and consumer-grade screens will typically need a media player in addition to the screen, many digital signage kiosks already have the media player functionality built into them.
3. Digital Building Directory Software
The digital building directory software is the content management software (CMS) that allows you to perform a large number of tasks.
With this software you can upload or create digital content, schedule your content through playlists, deploy your content to screens and, often, perform a number of automated tasks, such as keeping the time of day and the day of the week updated on your digital screens.
The final component of a digital building directory is the content. Luckily, you usually do not need to be a professional level designer to make visually appealing content, though hiring one is always an option.
The reason even non-designers can usually manage the digital directory is that most digital signage providers will offer building directory templates that you can use to easily customize what shows up on the screen.
It's important to remember that content is probably the most important aspect of the whole equation. Tenants, guests, and customers engage with the content, and for that reason, high quality content is essential for achieving a high ROI.
Indoor vs Outdoor Digital Building Directories
Indoor and outdoor environments differ greatly, and thus, pose different requirements upon digital directories. If you are considering an outdoor building directory, then there are a few requirements that you should meet.
Firstly, you will want to get digital signage hardware that is rated for outdoor use. Among other things, it should have sealing that can protect against dust, debris, and moisture.
Secondly, you will typically want to place the digital directory in an enclosure with cooling and heating functionality to regulate the temperatures, protecting the digital building directory from overheating or getting too cold.
Thirdly, you will want to make sure that you get a display that is capable of a high level of brightness, since the sun will make the screen less readable.
The fourth thing to consider is making sure that your outdoor digital building directory is safe and secure. Digital building directory hardware can be quite expensive, and you want to take the utmost care that it does not get damaged or stolen. You can secure the hardware with extra weld points, compression locks, tempered safety glass, and galvanized steel.
Another consideration you should take into account with outdoor vs indoor digital building directories is the type of content you will display. Digital building directories that are located outside in a high traffic area with low dwell time may best serve their purpose by displaying short content with focused messaging. For example, it could announce a deal that is going on at one of the businesses inside the building.
On the other hand, those digital directories that are placed indoors where there is a longer dwell time can show longer content and contain more options for interactivity.
Choosing Your Ideal Digital Building Directory
As we have shown, there are many benefits that come with integrating a digital building directory system into your building ecosystem. While some buildings can manage just fine with a simple digital building directory with limited functionality, others may want to invest in one or multiple interactive digital building directories.
But the difference isn’t between residential buildings and large commercial hubs like malls. Residential buildings can benefit from interactive digital building directories with features that allow a visitor to search the name of a tenant and call them. While malls, though typically best suited for advanced interactive displays, can also find success with non-interactive commercial grade screens.
In many cases, the digital signage ecosystem will contain both interactive displays and non-interactive displays, each serving different purposes. A building owner might decide that displaying ads is best achieved with non-interactive large LED video walls, while wayfinding functionality is best served by an interactive building directory kiosk.
The decision will really come down to the initial investment that you are willing or able to put down and your ultimate goals for installing this system.