E-Boards Follow-Up Report

In 2014, Josephine McRobbie and Andreas Orphanides conducted a number of interviews that looked to better understand how users interacted with and comprehended the information on electronic billboards (e-boards) throughout the D. H. Hill Library.  In the following year and based on user feedback, we eliminated much "rotating" content to allow for consistently available information; developed content that showcased top user needs such as weather, time, tech lending availability, wayfinding, and bus maps; made preliminary arrangements for two vertical screens at a better sight line and location in the building; and recommended that lesser-used e-boards be eliminated over time.  In 2016, we looked to gather some feedback on how these changes have affected patron comprehension and use of e-boards in the D. H. Hill.  We found that there are still improvements to be made to our e-board ecosystem, including the elimination of remaining rotating content and the inclusion of more peer-learning promotional material.


Research Questions

  1. After our last study related to D. H. Hill e-boards, we made several suggested changes. Have they had an impact on how users interact with and comprehend e-board content?

    1. Do users notice e-board content?

    2. Do users express that content has utility or relevance to their lives?

  2. What other changes may need to be made to make the digital signage ecosystem in D. H. Hill more effective?

What we found

We interviewed three undergraduate students, to "take temperature" on how e-board usage might have changed since we instituted our new content strategy. This was done prior to the installation of the new, line-of-sight vertical screens. Overall, the users did not express a higher level of engagement with the e-boards than the initial group.

One user said they appreciated the inclusion of time, weather, and bus map information, suggesting that this was an effective change to content. The other two users said they did not notice or remember e-board content, even after we interviewed them directly in front of e-boards in three locations in the building.

One user noted frustration with having to wait for content to finish rotating before they could "go back" to the workshop or event information they wanted to see. They were referring to one of three locations that still contains rotating content. This suggests that rotation on even some screens leads to a lack of engagement with content. One user mentioned that they had noticed content in the Atrium cafeteria based on the fact that it included photos of students.

Recommendations and Changes

  1. Continue to eliminate rotating content when possible. A "quad screen" or multi-content screen can serve multiple needs without requiring users to wait for content to rotate back to desired item.

  2. Keep in mind that ineffective content on one screen may lead users to disengage from all e-boards in the building.

  3. Include photos of peers (other students, other library users, etc.) in content where appropriate to engage users with information.

  4. Continue to recommend eliminating two e-boards in the Learning Commons as burn-in occurs. Their location is no longer optimal. They used to be over the Learning Commons service desk and attract the attention of waiting patrons. That service desk is gone now with the creation of the integrated Ask Us center in the lobby.

  5. Consider a future assessment of e-boards that includes the newly installed vertical screens.

How We Did It

Solicited for participants via email, using current list of potential study participants.  Participants were reimbursed with Amazon gift cards.  Interviews took 20-30 minutes.

Participant Breakdown

Total number of participants: 3, all undergraduates.