September 28, 2018
Digital Signage Tips & Tricks

PowerPoint for Digital Signage Templates

Yes, You Can Use PowerPoint for Digital Signage Template Creation!


Backgrounds are the environments of your messages. Just like a backdrop in a play, they are often the first thing viewers see and the last thing they remember. No one finds a blank page engaging or memorable, audiences need something flavorful to digest. CommandCenterHD's template tool allows you easily add custom templates to give your digital signage presentation some character. Backgrounds fill the entire screen of each slide in the campaign that utilizes that template.

Getting Started

First, open Powerpoint and create a new document. Under the Design Tab, click the Page Setup button. The desired page width of 14.23 inches by 8 inches in height will set the file's dimensions to match the 1366x768 canvas size that your digital displays use. Click 'OK' to accept your changes.

Designing Your Background

• Click the new slide option and create a blank slide.

• Click on the ‘Home’ tab, select the first slide in your series, and click ‘Delete’ to remove the Title slide that shows up by default. You should now have a single blank slide in your campaign.


Adding Shapes

• Click on ‘Insert’ and then select the shapes option.

• From here, we use the shape tools to fill the slide background.

• To change the color and characteristics of your slide, simply click on the Format tab and adjust the shape fill and stroke of your box.

• Next, draw some additional shapes to accommodate a main hero graphic/video along with two side graphics/videos.

• We will cap the template off with a space for RSS at the bottom of the page. To do this, select the rounded edge rectangle tool and add the shape to my template.

Adding Logo

Add your company logo to the new campaign.

• Click on the ‘Insert’ tab, then click on the ‘Picture’ option. Select the logo from your computer click 'Upload.

Making Things Interesting

You now have a nice framework for a digital signage template in place. However, it does look a bit flat. Subtle dimension and color can go a long way to give your templates an added punch. One way to add dimension to a template is by using gradients and shadows. Take the following steps to create some gradients and shadows to your template.

• First, select the shape you want to add effects to. In this case, I will select the black background box.

• Next, click Shape Fill > Gradient > More Gradients

• Under 'Fill' select 'Gradient Fill'

• Powerpoint uses gradient stops to allow you to adjust the color of your gradient. Select the gradient stop (1-5) and adjust the color of that stop using the color toggle. Adjust until you are happy with your gradient's appearance and click Close.


Adding Dimension

• For the other rectangles on my template, I will apply an internal shadow to make them look recessed.

• Click on the shape you wish to edit.

• Click Shape Fill > then select the effect you wish to apply. In this case, I select an inner shadow with a top left lighting effect.

Saving Your Background

• Click File in Office 2003 or the Office Button in 2007.

• Click Save As.

• Set your destination to save the images. (your choice)

• Click the drop-down arrow on Save file as type.

• Scroll down and select JPEG File Interchange Format.

• Click Save.

• When asked "Do you want to export every slide in the presentation or only the current slide?" click Current Slide.

• PowerPoint will display the name and location of the folder where your pictures are located.

• You are now ready to upload your background image into a template in CommandCenterHD.


TIFF, JPG, PNG, GIF, EPS – Know the difference between image formats

This is where things can get very technical, but we’re going to keep it basic. Every image format can be grouped into either “lossy” or “lossless”. A lossy image is compressed to create a smaller file size but deletes certain data it deems unimportant. Saving a lossy image in a very low quality can create major artifacts. JPEG is the most popular lossy format.

As far as lossless goes, you probably guessed it; it does not get compressed and therefore keeps all its data. A lossless image is definitely the best type of image that can be uploaded to your screens. It can handle transparency and add some great design elements to your slides. PNG, GIF, and TIFF are the most popular lossless formats.

There are definite advantages to both categories of an image. JPEG and GIF images are almost always tiny file sizes, best for sites with many images, ultimately reducing load times. On the other hand, PNG images are perfectly clear and are ideal for situations where quality is key. We recommend PNG for slides. Even if you have many slides in a campaign, the difference in file size from a JPEG to a PNG is not going to bog down your slideshow.

Color

Did you know that almost 85% of consumers said color was the primary reason that they purchase a particular product? Or that 93% of consumers look at the products overall visual appearance when they buying? Color improves comprehension, learning, and readability. What’s more is color even increases brand recognition by 80%.

The colors you choose for your templates can both help or hurt your content. If the background color of a slide on your sign is black, don’t use a dark grey for your typeface. Always choose a contrasting typeface for your copy to reduce eye strain. An easy rule to remember is if you have a dark background, always use a light color for your copy, and vice versa.

A color fill is the most basic option for backgrounds because white backgrounds are often perceived as the opposite of creative. With digital signage, there is an even bigger reason to avoid white backgrounds- LED technology repels eye when it emits white. We don’t want that!


Images

There is a difference between featuring an image at the main component of your message and stretching a picture as your background. Remember, the purpose of a background is to create a visually appealing environment where your message can thrive. Don’t use an intricate picture (like a picture of a crowd at a sporting event) as it will distract from your message.

Also, be sure to never overlay text on the graphic, for legibility reasons. Put a text box down first. If absolutely necessary, only use text on the area of the image that has the least amount of detail (i.e. a clear, blue sky.) The key to choosing a picture for a background is to keep it theme appropriate, yet simple. Audience eyes will still see the background, but their attention will remain on the text- the perfect balance. 

Don’t clutter your slides with images

No one likes clutter. That rule definitely applies to graphic design, which is usually meticulously planned and very well structured. The best design work is also the most successful. See the correlation? Take a little extra time to plan your design, and you’ll see you’re more likely to reap the benefits.

When placing images, always remember to use the grid system. The grid system can also get a little complicated, so here I’m just going to stick to the bare bones. The number of necessary rows and columns usually relates to the number of images and the amount of text you plan to use. If you stick by this rule, you are guaranteed to at least have a well setup slide. Always line up elements within the same row or column of a grid.

Texture

Texture can be a great alternative to color, as long as it doesn’t overpower the composition of the screen.  Adding texture, or ‘noise’ to your template can give a tasteful a level of dimension. In other cases, it’s too much (i.e. some of the filters your friends use on Instagram). Just like our rule with images: keep texture subtle, or else it will be distracting!

Texture can also be used to highlight specific elements of your message. For instance, your logo or call-to-action can be “in focus” while a texture can overlay the rest of your design. Also, texture can be added behind certain areas of the design to act as a text box.

Example: For a snowy weather warning, use a cracked ice texture to make the screen look like it’s been sitting outside for a few hours.