Campus Signage

A flexible signage system for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Digital boards are a highly visible part of SAIC’s campus, located in lobbies, by elevator banks, student centers, and other high traffic areas. They are an important communication tool to promote events and announcements. They help build a sense of community and serve as an inspiring promotional tool for visiting prospective students.

Designing for Passive Interaction

Unlike with a mobile app or a website, users will not always be actively engaged with a digital board. Most displays are located in lobbies by elevators, and students only have a few seconds to glance at the screen on their way to class.

With this in mind, I prioritized displaying time-based content (events) over less urgent content like a map, directory, or student artwork. Events are organized in a predictable and glance-able way that can be easily learned.

Content is organized in a predictable way that can be easily learned. Information is arranged from left to right by urgency. The left column is always visible to show what is happening now, followed by a timeline of events happening later on.

An Adaptable Timeline

The timeline adapts to use the space most efficiently without needing to transition through the most relevant, urgent information.

How the display might change over the course of a day.


With a non-interactive display where users can approach the screen at any time, transitioning content can be jarring and overwhelming. Minimum and natural, gentle transitions of content are crucial. The most urgent events will always stay visible, while events later in the day subtly rotate in and out. Progress bars let the user know when content is about to change.

Demo of content transitions

Blending Touch vs. Non-Touch Display Interfaces

Because most screens are non-touch and most users will passively interact even with touch screens, I designed for traditional screens first. I wanted to keep the experience as consistent as possible between touch and non-touch screens, so the touch screens essentially look and function the same, but have an additional layer of interactivity.

Touch vs. non-touch display
Clicking "more info" on an event allows the user to see other events in the series, or show where it is located on the map.

The Right Content at the Right Time

During the summer and winter months, most students are gone and there are not many events. The traffic is mostly visitors and prospective students. In these times, the displays adapt to show more relevant content to the audience: inspiring student artwork.

The displays prioritize student artwork during the summer and winter when there aren't many events and the traffic is mostly visitors and prospective students.

A Flexible Process

I experimented with my process, taking an idea to a relatively high fidelity quickly, then iterating on it in rough sketches, then bringing it back to a high fidelity. I also made sure to test my designs on an actual TV to ensure legibility from a distance.