A digital building directory is a display system consisting of software and a screen that displays the layout of a building and a list of offices.

While commercial and residential properties are the most popular buyers of building directories, they 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, and 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

Digital building directories have numerous benefits over traditional directories:

  1. they’re easy to update so the information displayed is always up to date 
  2. they’re customizable so you can use your logos, colors and fonts to ensure brand consistency
  3. they add aesthetic appeal to the building and create a great first impression and welcoming experience
  4. easy content scheduling and dayparting enable users to display targeted and relevant information e.g. displaying traffic maps during lunch hours and in the evenings
  5. the ability to display videos and animations attracts attention easily and can improve retention
  6. interactive directories enable self-service which improves the visitor experience
  7. they elevate the visitor experience even more by displaying maps that are spatially oriented and can be downloaded to smartphones
  8. when placed outside elevators, they reduce perceived wait times by up to 35%
  9. save costs 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. generate additional revenue for the property managers by selling ad space to tenants and other local businesses 

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

Indoor vs Outdoor Building Directories

Both outdoor and indoor environments have different expectations and challenges, especially as it relates to the hardware demands for building directories.

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

Considerations for outdoor building directories include:

  • using hardware rated for outdoor use that will have sealing to protect against dust/debris and moisture
  • using enclosures with cooling and heating to regulate temperatures
  • using high-brightness displays with a minimum brightness level of 1,500 nits
  • using 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, while 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 more options for deeper and more meaningful engagement.

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

The entries include wayfinding maps, enhanced landing pages for tenants, virtual receptions, the ability to call tenants for access to the building, the ability to change languages and more.

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

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

Interactive directories also make your facilities easy and safe to navigate and they’ll help to curb anxiety and unfamiliarity for first-time visitors. 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 which 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 based on what you want to display, at 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 because they can remain in operation for longer hours, are brighter, and are a lot more suited for commercial environments. Equally, they provide for either vertical or horizontal orientations.

2. A media player

Also called a digital signage player, it performs the function of downloading content from the software and caching it on its internal storage before displaying it on the screens. Because the content is cached on the players, the screens will never go blank even when there is no internet. 

The player is connected to the display through the HDMI, and 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 that 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, allowing managers to easily update content and check on the status of the system.

4. Content

This is obviously the media that is displayed on screens. Most digital signage providers will offer building directory templates that are easy to customize and update.  

Because content is what your tenants and guests interact with, 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 also be simple and legible with no more than two different fonts used per design. 

2. Have breathing space

This means keeping the screens simple while still using focus techniques. Incorporating lots of white space will allow your designs to “breath” and direct focus to the 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.

Good color contrast improves legibility while poor contrast kills legibility.

Different colors also evoke different emotions:

  • Often, warm, bright colors are more visible and make items seem larger. Also, they tend to convey a sense of welcome.
  • Cold, bright hues like 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, you should apply caution when using them to showcase content because 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

When evaluating building directories, it’s extremely important to consider how guests will use and interact with it. This should be your primary driver, and where you will want to draw an ROI – 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.