Anyone with an LED sign will appreciate the ease of use of the SignCommand software program. Ryan Rogers, manager for support and installation at Stewart Signs, discusses the benefits of SignCommand. Listen or read more to find out how to effectively utilize SignCommand.
John Maher: Hi I'm John Maher. I'm here today with Ryan Rogers, manager for support and installation at Stewart Signs. Today we're talking about top tips for using SignCommand. Welcome, Ryan.
Ryan Rogers: Thanks John, I appreciate you taking the time this morning to talk to me.
John: Sure. Ryan, we're going to go through some tips for people using SignCommand. What's sort of your overall tip for people maybe just getting started with SignCommand?
Ryan: We actually get this a lot. Customers say, I just got SignCommand, I just got my email. What do I do now? We always recommend starting with the training tutorial videos. We have a great selection, covers all the pieces of the software and it's very easy to go through the entire list, and are specific [for] each section. If you're trying to learn one thing or another, you can target what you're aiming for, and it really helps a lot of people get started, get on their feet with the software itself.
Creating a Playlist in SignCommand
John: Then what are playlists, and what's your tip for creating playlists within SignCommand?
Ryan: Honestly being creative is the best method within the limitations of your local regulations. There's a lot it can do, with video, pictures ... we have animations now, scrolling text. There's just so many features and availability for what you can do with it, that the more you actually are creative and the more content you create, it will really help bring your sign out and stand it out from other people's advertisements.
Using a Slide to Its Full Potential
John: What's your tip for creating really awesome looking slides using SignCommand?
Ryan: Honestly, the best slides I've seen are ones that use the sign to its full potential. Our signs have a very high contrast ratio. Any pictures or videos, [or] text ... you want to use a high contrast [which] really brings out the sign itself. So, the more you can utilize that sign with graphics the better off you're going to be.
John: Speaking of that. What is it that you can do for creating text in order for it to be really easily seen at all distances from very far away or very close up? What's the best way to go about that?
Ryan: This is actually one of the harder things for people to actually visualize. Through our entire lives when we're creating content for things, we keep in mind these borders on the documents we're creating or video areas we're creating. With a sign, the border is really everything around the sign itself. In order for something to really be seen and used the most the sign use the entire area available. I see a number of times where customers will put in text a little smaller and put it in the middle because it looks good on your monitor for what you're viewing. But at the end of the day, when it's out in the field when you're actually looking at it as a person driving by you want to get as much of that area — much that real estate available and use it while you have it.
John: Really utilizing all of that space maybe making the text go all the way left to right across the sign that kind of thing?
Ryan: Exactly. Border to border, top to bottom, fill every single square millimeter you have available to you. That [will] really help get the message out there and have some good visibility on it.
Using Contrast to Stand Out
John: You mentioned contrast as well and I imagine you mean like a contrast between the background that's on the sign and maybe the text that's over that background. Do you have any tips for how to approach contrast in terms of text and backgrounds to make text more visible?
Ryan: Yes, for sure. The high contrast is a great thing and a lot of TVs are starting to tout this feature, known as HDR and things like that, which is a really good contrast between the lowest, darkest darks and the brightest brights. Since they are individual LED displaying content when you choose a color, like black or a darker color, it is almost off. If you can choose something like white on black to a person driving by at night during the day, it really grabs your attention. Even contrasting colors between you know red vs. green vs. blue — making sure you're not putting two very similar colors next to each other which will kind of bleed together, you want to have two completely independent colors next to each other. Using a bright colored text with a dimmer background or a different color background, it really helps bring the two ... separate the two out.
John: I imagine that would be difficult for people who maybe are colorblind as well. If you have a red background and green text on it some people might have a really, really hard time reading.
Ryan: Exactly. Usually just making a good decision as to what colors you are using and what looks good to you on the sign there ... something is really also important. Once you create that message, it might look good on your monitor, but you really want to see it on the sign itself as well. When you send it out there give it a quick preview just to make sure it looks the same. It is a little bit different technology between your computer monitor and an LED sign. It might look slightly different than what you actually expected in your head.
Scheduling Messages on SignCommand
John: Talk a little bit about scheduling and give us a tip for how to schedule messages using SignCommand.
Ryan: Scheduling is one of my favorite features, and it's something ... because I personally forget a lot of things. Schedule meetings — not meetings specifically. But 'oh I have an event coming up this week, I'm going to the beach this weekend with friends, and I completely forget about until last second'. If you can do it up like a calendar, it really helps get things done like going into school or starting a lot of schools are starting up right now. If you could schedule frame like ahead of time during the summertime 'school's going to start soon', you can get a schedule up we'll start playing at a particular time.
You can essentially fire and forget. Put it on the sign, not worry about it and when the time comes for it to play you don't need to update your playlist or anything — it'll be there ready to go for you. It really does help get things out there if you're a forgetful person like myself.
John: Just not having to take that time maybe every day to go into the SignCommand software and put up the latest announcement that's for that day. If you have a schedule like most schools and churches and businesses do [have] a schedule of events and things like that, you should be going in there way ahead of time and creating those slides ahead of time. So that on the day of the big game you don't even have to think about it. It automatically posts up an announcement about what time the game is starting or something like that, is that how people are using it?
Ryan: Exactly. We have a customer here who is a business that has events. Every month they have a whole list of events every day, every weekend, and they make their whole playlist ahead of time every month for each individual event. All the way through the entire month. They don't have to worry about it throughout the month. It just changes day to day, when they go into the morning as they can see the signs of splitting and they're good to go. They don't have to go in and create content on a daily basis. We have schools that do seasonal things, so they just make up a four-month, three-month playlist with everything scheduled out so they can just update it as after winter break or right after particular holidays. They don't have to worry about the next section, they can just leave it alone.
Quickly Pushing a Message with SignCommand
John: Give us a tip on how to get your message out fast using SignCommand. Maybe you can't schedule something ahead of time and maybe it just has to be a quick notice that you're putting up, what's the best way to go about that?
Ryan: Of course. Well, the software is very easy to use and it's really easy to create content quickly. A lot of times people are on the road, 'oh I need to get that message out there because I forgot', or say schools got closed because there's a snow day and you really can't get into the office to make a playlist that says, 'hey school's closed because of a snow day'. We do this nice quick message feature, which allows you to just type out however long you want of a message as text only and it will automatically scale it inside of a clear sign that you can send on the button without having to create an elaborate playlist or try to go in and create content on there. You can just type it out on your phone while using a web browser. Whatever internet connected device you have with a browser to get something on that quickly.
John: Yes, so perfect. Like I said for those — what you mentioned snow days or maybe there's some kind of other cancellation or something like that that you just have to push out right away and that's the easiest way to go about doing that.
Ryan: Most definitely.
Additional Useful Tips
John: Is there anything else that you'd like to add about SignCommand and other ways that SignCommand is really useful for people?
Ryan: One of the things that most people don't see because it is a background item for our technicians here, is our diagnostic software. There's a lot on the backend that we can monitor and the control systems. The actual board, power supply, that sort of thing, that we can actually see from our desks. When someone contacts us saying 'hey I have some issues or some questions', you can quickly see that maybe they scheduled the playlist incorrectly, maybe they're having some hardware failure. Maybe they just set of setting on their improperly that they just didn't realize they did or maybe someone else in the organization had, and they didn't know about it.
We can quickly and easily see these features and see these issues on our end without having to go in-depth too much into trying to diagnose software and pulling up codes or anything like that — it's a quick visual reference. It's really helped our department a lot with a quick fire. 'Hey, my sign is blank.' Well, you have it scheduled to be blank, or someone may have scheduled it. It's really easy for us to report that back to customers. It's been really helpful since we launched the software.
John: That's a real advantage of the SignCommand software and the fact that it's cloud-based, that it's all on the internet and whether it's you guys needing to get into somebody’s sign software and look and see what the problem is, or whether it's just somebody being able to log in from their home to put up what they need to on their sign that's at their school or business or church, having it be cloud-based like that is a real advantage?
Ryan: Exactly, exactly. We can see playlist they've created, we can pretend we are the users who we can start having a hard time elaborating what needs to happen. We can go in and manually do that for them. It's a lot of really nice ... the ease of use features on our end that really help us on this end. Additionally, with a lot of the hardware upgrades, we've had ... because obviously as time goes on hardware changes for signs ... our software's able to upgrade to keep up with these and give us more and more features on our end for diagnostics and just for visual reference.
John: All right. That's really great information. Ryan Rogers, I really appreciate you speaking with me today.
Ryan: Hey John, thanks for your time appreciate it.