Display Now

What's your sign?


Something wasn't right...

With a team of three, I was contracted to do UX work with Display Now, a company offering methods to populate and remotely update digital signage. They were having a serious issue: hardly anyone was using the service.  The client thought that designing a calendar function would possibly solve their problems. User research revealed much larger issues.


The startup had recently done a big advertising push. Despite the effort to drive a lot of traffic to the site, the conversion rate was statistically irrelevant. Looking at analytics, we discovered that around 83% of visitors were bouncing within 10 seconds, and hardly anyone made the effort to try the service. As my team began to explore the site, it quickly became apparent why.  It took us two hours to figure out how to do a fairly simple task.  

Something was very wrong.

Testing and Interviews

User testing results from five participants showed ties to our experience. All but one indicated they would have bounced on the first page because of the messaging, and the one who didn't missed basic functionality in the tool because of cryptic IA. The language on the front page (falsely) gave the impression that a Windows PC was necessary to use the service. In addition, users could only sign in via a Gmail or Windows email account.


Interviews of eight potential users also showed that inflexibility and complexity are the last things small business owners want to deal with. They are busy, stressed, and just need things to work.  One interview participant, Noelle, was paid to set up a digital sign in a bar. She offered to teach them how to do it. They didn't want to deal with the process. It took her five minutes, and she made more than what it would cost for a year of Display Now service (see quote below.) The demand for the user was there. The will to deal with doing it on their own was not. 



I'm thinking I don't want to buy a f***ing PC to use this.


I had offered to teach the bar... how to do this stuff on [their] own. You have a really simple setup, and literally not that much programming. I can just show you how to pop it in... boom, done. [They say] "No, no, we'd rather pay you to do this" Like we'll pay you for an hour's work even though it takes me five minutes.


[When our system does not work] it's awful...dealing with technology can be a pain.

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Affinity Map

Our affinity map revealed what we had suspected. Flexibility and simplicity were key. This was a product that needed to be as user friendly as possible.

1. I need flexibility.

  • "I want to be able to easily switch content."

  • "I would like to have different content on different signs."

  • "I want to be able to add content whenever I need to."

2. I need simplicity.

  • "It is a pain to update the slides."

  • "There is not enough time to make a quality presentation."

3. I need cost effectiveness.

  • "I have to pay an extra fee for support."

  • "My software is expensive."

Personas: spinning plates and herding cats...


Problems and solutions...


Land mines...

We began to create user flows based on the current site.  What we found was a maze with far too many pain points.


This is one example.

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While we didn't do everything we would have liked through our SWOT analysis, the cheapest and most effective steps were focused on. Namely highlighting useful things that were already on the site but obscured by cryptic language/IA. Namely the Groups function, which was what made Display Now stand out from the competition. 

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Sketch Wireframe

"Simplify, simplify."

As we made some rough wireframes our goal was, above all things, to make this as painless as possible for the user. This meant that the information architecture had to be completely overhauled and reconceptualized. The language needed to be stripped down, and the fat had to be cut.

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Low Fi Wireframe

A friendly voice...

I worked on efficient, helpful UX writing that showed a sense of humor. I wanted the tool to not just be user friendly, but for it to feel like a friend was guiding them along the way.  We added a tutorial using this approach as well. Again, we wanted to avoid users feeling overwhelmed by any step in the process.

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Branding notes

...and a friendly look.

With the voice came a new look.  We worked on a new logo, and one of my teammates and I bounced ideas back and forth until we found the right tone.  

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HiFi Wireframe

Final touches...

My one worry about the logo was that without the right aesthetic to support it, it could come off as a bit corporate and impersonal. Going back to the wireframe, I created graphics and sourced imagery that I felt matched the voice of the copy.  

"Less but better."

Usability testing showed much better impressions of the service, as well as a generally positive impression of the brand, though there was an overwhelming desire to have a more built out preview function. 


I was really quite proud, though, of what we had done. We stripped away everything unnecessary, simplified the IA, and gave people an onboarding experience that held their hand.  I'm very curious how statistics will be affected once the overhaul has been implemented!

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Display Now

Prototype scenario: you're new to this website. Look at what it has to offer. Then sign up for an account with an email. See if you can create a playlist with your image file "Open.png".

Note: best experienced on laptop or desktop.

Next Steps

This was an extremely important learning experience. It showed me how much budget matters when taking design decisions into account.  It also forced me to step up my IA game. I do wish that we had had a larger interview pool. We were under a very strict (and short) time frame, and finding suitable users willing to participate on short notice was a challenge.  

Looking back on the project, I'd address the following:

  • Redo the icons.  They feel a bit disjointed from the aesthetic. 

  • Use a larger variety of vector art.

  • Improve playlist, screen, and groups organisms on the dashboard. 

  • Improve and expand the preview function, both conceptually and aesthetically.

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