Touch vs. Non-Touch Digital Directories: Not Always a Simple Choice (Part Two)

Last week, we started a conversation around touch vs. non-touch directories, both static and interactive, and the basic capabilities of what each can do. Today, we’ll expand on that topic, by beginning our examination of the “three Ss” — setting, situation and surroundings — that affect why one type of digital directory may be a better choice than another.

To quickly recap: A non-touch digital directory can be one of two things: either a static screen that always displays the same information, such as office numbers and locations, or a screen that rotates through a set series of different informational “slides”. Digital touchscreen directories, offer different levels of interactivity, depending on the complexity of the software, from one- or two-button operation, to full touchscreen capabilities, much like a tablet. Considering the impact of the “three Ss” before making a decision is a big part of ensuring the right fit for your business’ needs.
Let’s start with “Situation”: For what purpose(s) will the directory be used? For instance, if an airport wants to display digital flight information, they are going to need a very large display that’s easy to read by multiple people at a distance, which can be expensive. But that screen becomes a much bigger investment if it also needs to be a touch-capable. Since most airports only need to display a rotating, constantly-updating list of flight data, there’s no need for the additional expense of purchasing a screen that can be made interactive.
On the other hand, if a large medical campus needs to direct patients, visitors and vendors around several different buildings, spread over a square mile or more, it’s likely that they will need more than just a simple display screen. Instead, a better choice would be smaller, full-touchscreen kiosks offering personalized wayfinding solutions that create a more comprehensive and relevant experience for end-users.
Finally, between the two above-mentioned solutions, there is another category of deployment, one that is considered “touch,” or “interactive,” but not as complex (or as costly) as a directory that is completely interactive. These are often configured for simple operation, giving users the ability to “page through” different screens, and return to “home.” An example of this would be some of the embedded screens in the headrests of many commercial airplanes. They are interactive in a limited way with software and hardware than reflects that specific use case. Passengers can “page through” and select from a list of movies or TV shows at the bottom of the screen, but the entire screen isn’t touch enabled. This is changing of course, especially as these technologies become more common and prices fall — a fully immersive flight entertainment experience is certainly already on its way.
Join us next week when we continue our discussion around touch vs. non-touch directories. In the meantime, if your business ready to invest in digital wayfinding technology, we invite you to submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today to find out how RedyRef can help you give your customers a best-in-class user experience.

Touch vs. Non-Touch Digital Directories: Not Always a Simple Choice

In terms of choices, digital building directories offer such an embarrassment of riches anymore that it can be hard to know where to start. Digital static? Digital non-touch, non-static? Interactive touchscreen? Wall mount, desk mount or floor mount? What about screen size? Refresh rate? Software? It’s no wonder we have so many clients interested in making the switch from old-style strip or paper directories who come to us frustrated from just trying to wrap their heads around the available options, not even counting other innovations such as 3-D mapping, interactive wayfinding and mobile integrations.

Therefore, we thought it might be a good time to get back to the basics, in order to give those considering investing in digital directories a jumping-off point from which they can begin their exploration. Let’s start with the differences and benefits of touch vs non-touch directories, and how they are best deployed in different environments.

First, it’s important to understand the terms touch and non-touch for what they actually are and do. A non-touch digital directory can be one of two things: either a static screen that always displays the same information, such as office numbers and locations, or a screen that rotates through a set series of different informational “slides”. The entire screen can change, or just sections of the screen, but in both cases, both are considered to be non-touch digital directories.

On the other side, we have digital touchscreen directories, which offer different levels of interactivity, depending on the complexity of the software. Some simply allow for one- or two-button operation, giving users the ability to “page through” different screens, and return to “home.” Others function more like a tablet, with full-screen touch capabilities, offering a more fully interactive and even immersive user experience.

While it may at first glance seem that interactive touchscreens would be the most practical choice, offering more opportunities for customization, it is the environment in which the directory will be deployed that should be of primary concern and have the most influence on whether a touch or non-touch display is chosen. Next week, we’ll address the reasons why the three Ss — setting, situation and surroundings — are so important when considering what kind of directory to purchase, and take a look at a few use cases to better illustrate why and when touch or non-touch digital directories may be most appropriate.

Is your business ready for what’s next in interactive wayfinding? As an end-to-end manufacturer of vertically integrated self-service kiosk solutions, we invite you to submit a request for proposal online or call (800) 628-3603 today to find out how RedyRef can help you give your customers a best-in-class, digital wayfinding experience.