The Mvix Software, XhibitSignage, is moving to 3.0

XhibitSignage 3.0 is coming to XhibitSignage.com, the Mvix cloud-based, content-rich digital signage software. Along with exciting new features, it also includes enhanced workflows to make managing digital signage even easier than it already is. Keep reading to learn more about these important upgrades.

How it all started

In 2014-15, XhibitSignage 2.0  was built as a UI makeover of our XhibitSignage platform but the fundamental technology stack remained unchanged at that time. A lot has changed in the last 12 years for the XhibitSignage platform. Our client preferences have changed, user experience requirements have changed, content requirements changed,  and security requirements have changed as well.

In the last 10 years, we also integrated over a dozen 3rd party APIs for fetching dynamic data and content from 3rd party sources. These integrations were based on an older tech stack and therefore required constant maintenance and upkeep. Above all, our client-base had mushroomed and our server architecture was almost at 75-80% of its capacity. So in Q4 2018, we started brainstorming the idea of a new version of XhibitSignage.

What we decided moved towards

Several options were discussed: from a simple UI refresh (i.e. a new cost of paint ) all the way to a complete overhaul of the entire system. There were significantly fewer votes in favor of “complete overhaul” since the current solution was working perfectly. 

Q1 2019, planning started for a “few minor enhancements” to the solution architecture and within a few weeks, there was ample consensus that a complete overhaul of the entire solution will not pm;y yield better results, it’ll serve our clients better in the long run.

The initial time and cost estimates for developing the application from scratch were mind-boggling and were quickly swept aside so as not to raise eyebrows. Then started the overwhelming task of

  1. what new technologies to adopt
  2. what old technologies to eliminate

Imagine building a new house and wondering if you should run CAT6 ethernet wires in the walls, fiber, go wireless (with extenders) or do nothing at all since 5G is around the corner.

If you think the selection of a tech stack was complicated, the issue got even more complicated when you have to find the skill sets and expertise in your existing team, requirements for training and acquiring additional development resources and expertise. 

The NEW Tools

XhibitSignage 3.0 is built upon the latest and greatest tech stack on a custom-built UI designed by an award-winning designer. 

A combination of Laravel (backend) and ReactJS (frontend), all packaged seamlessly via hundreds of RestAPIs and hosted on Amazon’s AWS for scalability and reliability. 

The new server platform boasts of an enterprise-grade architecture utilizing Cloudfront CDN,  Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) located inside of an Elastic Beanstalk (ELB) cluster along with a scalable number of EC2 instances.

All media is handled via a Relational Database Service (RDS) instance that provides us with a highly scalable/available database system. In front of this is an ElasticCache service that will do object-level caching on our database assets.

Logs, device health metrics and playback reports are all handled by DynamoDB Document Store.

The CMS-player communication is also revamped so as to allocate more resource-intensive tasks to the CMS server and allow the device to do the one thing that it should do – smooth, reliable playback.

JQuery is now legacy.

It is almost eliminated from the entire application.

I say “almost” because we have to leave some support for backward compatibility with existing devices out in the field.

Significant authentication techniques and new roles and permissions are designed to enhance overall system security.

All communication within the CMS and with the devices is all encrypted with 256-bit encryption. We integrate with OKTA for seamless SAML and AD integration. 

The NEW Shiny Stuff

All New User Experience

Using words to describe “design” or “user interface” is irrelevant.

Judge for yourself:

What do you think? 

All New Design Gallery

There has been almost unanimous client feedback that we should somehow combine our popular SignageCreator application inside of XhibitSignage.

It’s happening now with 3.0!

We have integrated all our 1000+ designs from SignageCreator in 3.0 with a new state-of-the-art design editor.

xhibitsignage 3.0

The editor’s interface is intuitive and reliable. It also opens doors for us to support hundreds of custom fonts, patterns, background, illustrations etc.

All New Content Media

Content has been the front-and-center of the Mvix brand since its inception.

In recent years we embarked on integrating 3rd party API data sources so as to bring dynamic data to the screens. We pushed this agenda further with XhibitSignage 3.0.

Few new content media have been integrated already and a few dozen more are in the pipeline. New content media includes:

  1. Slack
  2. News
  3. Twitch
  4. MS PowerBI

All New Responsive Visualizations (aka Themes)

In 2016 when we started introducing the concept of visualizations/themes for our content apps, we never knew how popular those will be. Clients loved it and wanted more.

In the current XhibitSignage 2.0, we have an average of 2-3 “themes” for a few content apps. XhibitSignage 3.0 is on steroids.

We made a commitment to provide 8-10 new and modern themes for over 22 content apps… and wait for it… these themes are fully responsive within template zones. This means that when you add the media to zones, it will fit perfectly.

Guaranteed.

All New Device Health Dashboard

One of the upsides of exhibiting at tradeshows is that you receive A LOT of unsolicited feedback. This new feature is a result of such consistent, never-ending, fundamentally-correct advice we received across market verticals.

It had to happen in 3.0.

To start, we are now collecting about 24 device parameters (health indicators) and reporting back to the CMS for diagnostics and preemptive troubleshooting. Enterprise-grade, it is!

We are super excited about this new version of our baby. Hope you will be too! Let us know if you would like to learn more about something specific and we will cover it in our next blog.

All you Need to Know about Digital Building Directories

A digital building directory is a display system. It consists of software and a screen that displays the layout of a building and a list of offices. Commercial and residential properties are the most popular buyers of building directories. But these type of directories can be used in virtually any business. Malls, office spaces, hospitals, schools, places of worship, hotels, government buildings and entertainment venues can all benefit from digital building directories.

Some common uses of digital building directories include:

  • Standard tenant listings
  • Displaying building amenities
  • Showing leasing contact info and building pictures
  • Displaying floor plans

Property managers can also display:

  • Local traffic alerts and maps
  • Transit options such as bus and metro schedules
  • Live news feeds
  • A list of local events
  • Weather
  • Ads for tenants
  • Emergency alerts 

11 Benefits of Digital Building Directories

There are numerous benefits to digital building directories including: 

  1. They’re easy to update – the information displayed is always up to date. 
  2. Logos, colors, and fonts are customizable to ensure brand consistency.
  3. They add aesthetic appeal to the building and create a great first impression and welcoming experience.
  4. Content scheduling and dayparting are easy. This enables users to display targeted and relevant information (e.g. displaying traffic maps during busy periods like lunch hours).
  5. Attract attention and improve retention with display videos and animations. 
  6. Interactive directories enable self-service which improves the visitor experience.
  7. Boosts the visitor experience by displaying spatially oriented maps that can be downloaded to smartphones.
  8. When placed outside elevators, they reduce perceived wait times by up to 35%.
  9. Saves cost over time – on average, it costs $400, 3 people, and 3 weeks to add a new tenant to a traditional building directory. It costs zero to add a tenant to a digital directory and this can be done within minutes by one person.
  10. Multiple directories can be managed from one login. This centralized management ensures consistency and saves costs. 
  11. Generates additional revenue for the property managers by selling ad space to tenants and other local businesses.

The real ROI of a digital building directory is the cost benefits and qualitative advantages listed above

Indoor vs Outdoor Building Directories

Both outdoor and indoor environments have different expectations and challenges. This is especially true when it comes to the hardware demands for building directories.

An outdoor ecosystem presents unique challenges that often translate to additional costs.

Considerations for outdoor building directories include the following requirements:

  • Hardware rated for outdoor use that has sealing to protect against dust/debris and moisture.
  • Enclosures with cooling and heating to regulate temperatures.
  • High-brightness displays with a minimum brightness level of 1,500 nits.
  • Secure hardware with extra weld points, compression locks, tempered safety glass, and galvanized steel.

The content displayed on outdoor directories may also vary. Those installed in high traffic areas with low dwell times may show “short” content with very focused messaging. On the other hand, those in lobbies with high dwell times can show longer content.

What Is an Interactive Building Directory?

Interactive building directories, sometimes called touchscreen building directories, offer deeper and more meaningful engagement. This is due in large part to additional options.

They are able to carry a bigger number of entries and information pages. This enables users to drill down further to their selection.

Interactive Building Directory Entries

  • wayfinding maps,
  • enhanced landing pages for tenants,
  • virtual receptions,
  • the ability to call tenants for access to the building,
  • multiple language options,
  • and much more.

Visitors can use on-screen keyboards to search for entries by category, name, etc.

More control

In today’s age, most people expect to have more control over their experiences. Interactive directories are one way to provide this. In addition, visitors tend to get more information from interactive directories. In turn, this empowers them and adds value to their experience. 

Interactive directories also make your facilities easy and safe to navigate. This can help curb anxiety and unfamiliarity for first-time visitors. Additionally, this will create positive interactions within the spaces which will foster loyalty and long-term engagement.

Components of a Building Directory

Digital building directories fall under the umbrella of digital signage – a type of mass communication that comprises hardware and software. These tools create a centralized information distribution platform. This platform enables the transmission of media to one or multiple displays for informational or promotional purposes.

Besides enabling a business to create and edit content, digital signage software also allows users to schedule content for specified times and durations. The software also grants users the ability to manage the signage remotely.

The components of a digital building directory include:

1. Display screen

This refers to a large panel 16:9 screen with an HDMI port.

Commercial-grade displays hold an advantage over consumer-grade screens. They can:

  • remain in operation for longer hours,
  • are brighter,
  • more suited for commercial environments,
  • provide for either vertical or horizontal orientations.

2. A media player

Also called a digital signage player, the media player downloads content from the software. It then caches it on internal storage before displaying it on the screens. Because the content is cached, the screens will never go blank, even when there is no internet. 

The player is connected to the display through HDMI. It receives and downloads content through an internet connection (Wi-Fi or Ethernet).

3. Digital building directory software

The content management software (CMS) is the brains of the system.

It enables users to upload and/or create content, configure it, and deploy it to the displays.

The best software will include content apps that auto-update. This means once you update the source (e.g., a Google Calendar listing your events), the content on the screens is automatically updated. Additionally, you can update the content schedules to alter the content on display or change the time of display.

Since it’s often cloud-based, you can access the digital signage software remotely. This allows managers to easily update content and check on the status of the system.

4. Content

Most digital signage providers will offer building directory templates. This makes it easy to customize and update content displayed on the screen.  

Your tenants and guests interact with your content. It’s the main driver of success and achieving excellent ROI. As such, it’s vital to refine your content for your displays to ensure your audience easily understands the messaging.

Design Tips for Digital Building Directories

Regardless of industry, first impressions matter. And when it comes to digital building directories, presentation is everything.

To ensure you’re welcoming guests to your building with visually riveting digital lobby directories, here are some design tips you can follow:

1. Keep text concise

As a rule of thumb, you should aim to keep the phrases short and concise with a max of 4-5 words per line. Any more than that and your screen will be cluttered. 

The text should also be large enough to read from a distance.

The font should be simple and legible. Don’t use more than two different fonts per design. 

2. Have breathing space

This means keeping the screens simple while still using focus techniques. For example, incorporate lots of white space to allow designs to “breath”. This will focus attention on important information.

Using high-contrast items, headlines, etc. will create a visual hierarchy so guests know where to look. 

For interactive designs, it’s important to not overcomplicate your interface. Controls should be intuitive and visitors should be able to go back to previous listings with ease.

3. Consider lighting

Because directories tend to be in lobbies or outdoors, lighting is a unique consideration for the design. Lighting will impact how easy it is for your visitors to read the directory.

Take into account natural light shifts during the day. Hence, test the legibility of your digital building directory throughout the day.

4. Choose the right colors

Colors help your viewers to separate the different elements of your design. So, good color contrast improves legibility while poor contrast kills legibility.

Different colors also evoke different emotions:

  • Warm bright colors: often more visible and make items seem larger. Also, they tend to convey a sense of welcome.
  • Cold, bright hues: such as azure, silver, or lavender tend to convey a modern and professional feel.
  • Cold, dark colors: such as navy, green, or violet express a sense of stability and quality. Nevertheless, apply caution when using cold, dark colors to showcase content. They usually tend to blend in with other colors instead of producing rich contrasts. 
  • Warm, dark colors: such as purple, brown, or gold seem to indicate a sense of tradition and class. For that reason, many people frequently link them to businesses that offer exclusive services, for instance, financial consultants and architects.

Conclusion

How your guests use and interact with your building directory should be your primary driver. When implemented in the right way, digital building directories will add tremendous value by creating a better, more customized experience for both guests and tenants.