Digital signage Software Free vs Paid
You've been hearing about digital signage and you know it could benefit your organization. You start shopping and get:
- Multimedia players
- Content management software
You quickly realize there is a lot of digital signage software available. Unlike screens and media players, you can find free or paid software. At first glance, the choice is simple, a free solution seems better.
As with any purchase, you first need to assess your needs. Even though free software may seem more attractive, are you sure that it has everything you need?
This two-part article presents 6 factors to check for when choosing your software.
Display automation and management time
The first factor to take into consideration is the automation of your screen and its relation with the time required to update your content. Two points to consider:
- Display automation
- Manual changes
Display automation is not possible with all software and is even rarer (never) on free software. Automation is the process of retrieving existing information from several databases (ERP, CMS, Intranet, Website, News, Weather...), then displaying it easily on the screen.
Manual modifications deals with changes that cannot be automated, such as displaying a new job opening, for instance. Free software can make those changes, but they tend to be less user-friendly and harder to use, especially since they rarely offer training. For those reasons, management takes longer and is more demanding.
To assess your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will I have to make lots of changes to my content?
- Is automating my screens important?
In some cases, free software can be adequate, in others, the paid software will quickly justify its cost.
A free digital signage software offers many features, but this is where paid software stands out. Make sure to check the following items to see if it meets your needs:
- Number of software access keys
- Access management
- Number of templates and template editor
- Emergency messages
- Limited or unlimited media storage
- Regular updates
- Data integration (in different formats)
- Display automation
- Message programming (scheduling)
- Branding for your business
- Remote management
Subscriptions and extras
Most free software on the market also offers one or more paid variants, generally in the form of a premium subscription. The free version usually offers limited features and services. Depending on your needs, you will sometimes have no choice but to subscribe or pay for extras to properly undertake your project.
You should be wary, some software that is free at first can end up being much more costly than paid software.
The three other important factors will be published in the second part of this article.
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