Digital signs are the modern way to display business info, web pages, restaurant menus and more. They are handy tools that increase customer engagement.
If you're a business owner, you may not want to hire a designer every time you need to update your signage.
Enter Google Slides.
This search engine phenom continually creates ways for individuals to bootstrap their businesses. One offering they have is Google Slides. It's presentation software, but we're going to use it to become impromptu designers.
Keep reading to discover how you can create Google Slides digital signage for your business.
Chances are if you're using Google Slides as your main content creator, you didn't study graphic design in college. No problem at all. If you're a creative business owner or just doing a favor for a friend, you'll need to know some design basics.
We'll cover the most important elements here, so you can make attractive signs in no time.
Google also provide a good set of free beautiful templates that can help you get started quickly.
The Psychology of Color
Colors are perceived differently in every culture. For example, in the west, black is considered the color of mourning. In countries like South Africa, red is the color of mourning.
So the first step is to take note of the culture that will be interacting most often with your signage. You don't want to leave your customers with frowns because of a bad color choice.
Colors are typically defined as warm, cool, or neutral. Warm colors like red, yellow, and orange generate energy. They are associated with feelings of passion, positive, and excitement.
Blue, green, and purple are cool colors. They generally create feelings of tranquility and sincerity. Green and purple are colors that are created by mixing a warm color with blue. For this reason, they can take on attributes of warm colors.
Neutral colors serve as a canvas for warm and cool colors to shine. You can create designs with neutral colors to give a very sleek professional look. White, beige, and black are examples.
The Rule of Thirds
In the artistic world, there is such a thing called the Rule of Thirds. It is a tool or guideline used to create visual interest in a painting or photo. To adhere to the rule, a piece must be separated into 9 equal imaginary squares. It must have 2 vertical lines crossing 2 horizontal lines.
The subject of the image should land on or near where the lines cross. The elements of the image, like the horizon, should not cross the lines.
Use this rule when crafting your signage to create a pleasing dramatic effect.
The next important element in graphic design is proximity. Check out the signs, napkins, and advertising materials around you. You'll notice that the important info is the most prominent.
This is achieved in two visible ways. The first two are with proximity and visual weight. With proximity, similar elements are grouped together. You can also "group" them by using the same color.
Visual weight refers to the visual hierarchy. Group related information together. Use font size as a way of creating separation and highlighting the most important information. The larger font will draw the most attention. The eye naturally follows the information as the font gets smaller.
Another common technique in design is contrast. Contrast occurs when elements stand out against the others in a striking way. Small and large, smooth and rough, and black and white, are examples.
Contrast is used in design to draw the eye in a direction. Thick and thin lines create separation and contrast in the text. You can use it in the same way you use visual weight. Lines can stand alone or be part of an illustration.
Texture achieves the same end. Adding texture to a background creates visual interest without making your sign busy.
Finally, we must balance all the elements. Unlike your checkbook, if you still write checks, your design doesn't have to be symmetrical. Symmetry in design is achieved when things "feel" even.
This feeling is created by the visual weight of things. The bigger something is, the more visual weight it will carry and vice versa. But size is not the only factor. Color, contrast, and space go a long way to tipping the scale.
Space in an image is the open areas. Use this invisible tool to create more balance in an image that feels too busy.
How to Create Google Slides Digital Signage
Google Slides is Google's version of PowerPoint. It is free to use and only requires a Google account. To get started, make sure that you are signed into your email.
Step 1 - When the application opens you will see a line of templates. Click the yellow "+" under 'Start a new presentation". You can close the 'Templates' panel so you have more working room.
Step 2 - Now its time to set up the screen size. For a landscape screen. Go to File > Page Setup > Widescreen 16:9 > OK
For portrait settings go to File > Page Setup > Custom. Click the arrow next to the number boxes > select pixels > insert 720 x 1280 for portrait settings > OK
Step 3 - You want to start with a blank canvas. To do this, select each text box and hit delete on a Mac or Backspace on a PC.
You can choose a blank slide from the drop-down menu directly above the Slides panel. Its labeled with a "+" sign.
Step 4 - With a blank canvas, you can upload an image to use as a backdrop or create a menu or flyer.
To add an image select Insert from menu bar >Image > Select the location of your photos. You can also drag and drop the image to the blank slide.
Quick Note: To display an image publicly, you must have the rights to do so. The easiest way to do this is to take the photos yourself. Otherwise, there is a myriad of paid stock photo subscriptions you can purchase. For free options check out Unsplash.com or Pexels.com. On Pexels, most of the images are free for personal and commercial use. Be sure to read the requirements under the photo.
Step 5 - Resize the image by dragging out the corners. Red guidelines appear anytime you move the image to keep it centered. They also appear when you reach the boundaries of the slide.
To get rid of any portions of the image you don't want, select the crop tool. It looks like a square or two overlapping 'L' shapes.
Making photos larger is generally a no-no. It makes it look pixelated and unpretty. For a digital screen, it is okay because the program will fill in the pixels. Be careful though, it can still make a well-designed graphic look unbalanced.
Step 6 - Now its time to use those sweet design basics you learned before. What is the purpose of your slide? You want to make a flyer or daily specials menu? This should inform your choices of color, photo, and font.
To add text to your photo select Insert > Text Box
A black cross will appear. Adjust a text box the same way you would a photo. Simply drag out the corners. To make the Text bigger you will need to select it like you would in a regular document. Use the toolbar to adjust the text settings.
Choose a font that will be easy to read.
Step 7 - Add contrast to your sign. You can do this in two ways with Google Slides: adjust the image options and adjust the text.
To access the image options, select your image. Then select Format Options from the end of the icon toolbar. Select Recolor to add a filter the image. To change contrast and brightness, select Adjustments. Any of these options will help your text stand out more.
Remember the color palate we talked about before? Now is a good time to reference that. Use your brand colors here also. You'll want to select the colors that make your text most visbile. Select the text and add a highlight. Also, you can select the shape tool and fill it with the paint bucket.
To position the shape behind the text, click Arrange from the tool bar> Order> Select 'Bring to front' or 'Send to back'. You can also use Format Options with shapes.
Repeat steps 5 through 7 to add more images or text boxes as desired.
Step 8 - When your design is complete, go to File > Download as > Select JPEG or PNG. A PNG is the best quality but a JPEG has a smaller file size.
Step 9 - Follow OptiSign's setup guide and voila! You've got digital signage up and running.
Things to Remember
When creating Google Slides digital signage, these principals won't steer you wrong:
Choose colors based on your brand and the feel you are going for.The rule of thirds will help your images to be more appealing. This increases the chances that people will actually read them. Group similar items together. You can group them using similar colors or visual weight. Larger, bolder items will catch the eye first.Create contrast to help important information stand out. A font that is too light or too similar to the background will not stand out.When its all done, take a step back. Look away for a moment or grab a hand mirror. When you view your sign, it should strike you immediately. Change anything that feels 'off'.
If you find yourself stumped, look up some reference images. These are signs or advertising materials created by other companies that you like. Pull from a few sources to create something truly unique.
Discover more creative ways small businesses use digital signage on our blog.
Ready to get started?
If you are not using OptiSigns yet, you can sign up now for a free 30 days trial, all features included.