Want to turn your smart TV into a digital sign with minimal hassle?
You don't need complex hardware to display menus or announcements on your smart TV. All you need is the right software and any device with a web browser.
(Hint: most smart TVs can navigate the internet).
In this simple guide to digital signage browsers, we dive into how this technology works, how you can use it for your business, and the best software.
What is browser-based digital signage?
A web-based digital signage platform displays your desired content on your smart TV, computer, or tablet using the device's web browser, with no other hardware required.
Some common use cases include school announcements, office announcements, restaurant menus, medical office entertainment, and retail product explanations or sales videos.
Digital signage can be used to display social media widgets, weather widgets, slide shows, videos, audio files, and more.
How do digital signage browsers work?
Digital signage browsers display digital signs on your devices. All you need is access to a modern, updated web browser and a subscription to digital signage software. The most common web browsers to use for digital signage are Chrome, the Samsung Smart TV Browser, Amazon Silk, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and Safari.
Whether you're looking to use a Windows device, an Amazon Fire TV, or a Samsung Smart TV, you'll be able to do so as long as the device can navigate the internet.
You'll need to navigate to the website of your digital signage software and launch the content from there (sort of like opening a slide show).
The benefits of browser-based signage
There are a lot of benefits to browser-based signage. It's the best option for small businesses, restaurants, schools, churches, and non-profit organizations—or any company without a dedicated IT staff available to fix hardware problems.
Essentially, it's the most simple way to set up digital signs for your TV.
If you use traditional digital signage, you would need media player hardware, like this example from truDigital.
But with browser-based software, you ONLY need your smart TV and wall mounting hardware.
Large corporations occasionally choose the traditional method to ensure media will play even without wifi access.
But if you have consistent access to the internet, you can opt for the browser method and not have to pay for hardware.
There are a lot of costs that go into digital signage. You pay for the software that displays the content, the content creation, the smart TVs, the TV mounting equipment and installation, and any ongoing maintenance.
When you opt for digital signage software that works using a web browser, you reduce your overall costs. The software is more affordable and you don't have to purchase expensive hardware for the media player.
This means that your one-time setup costs are lower, and your monthly maintenance costs are lower.
Easy to deploy
You don't need to be technically savvy to implement a browser-based digital signage solution. Because there are no special hardware requirements for the media player, you only need to use the software and install your smart TV on the wall.
Important features for businesses
Digital signage offers consistent, high-quality media playing. If you're budget conscious, you might be wondering how this is different from just playing a slide show from Google Slides or Power Point.
When you play digital signage from a browser-based platform, you ensure that it doesn't shut off after a while. You can also access advanced features like content widgets and schedules—for instance, you might turn on different menus or announcements at lunch time. And, you have remote access. You don't need to be onsite working the remote (navigating the web with a TV remote is difficult). You can login to your digital signage solution, update the content, add new announcements, or change the content schedule whenever you'd like.
How to use browser-based digital signage
Ready to deploy digital signage for your business or organization?
Step 1. Choose a software that works with web browsers
You can't display your announcements, widgets, and menus without the right software.
Look for these key features:
- Works with modern web browsers
- Is white labelled (meaning the software won't insert their branding or ads on your screen)
- Offers the integrations for the content widgets you need
- Doesn't require any special hardware or media player
- Offers reasonable pricing for your needs (Juuno costs $20 per screen per month)
Step 2. Source your content
The next step is to source your content. This process will look different for everyone.
Maybe you hire a graphic designer to design your breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Maybe you use an easy design tool like Canva to design your own slide shows. Maybe you use social media widgets to pull in your company's recent content to keep your employees and customers in the know.
Login to your digital signage solution on your desktop computer and see what widgets and integrations are available.
Step 3. Set your content schedule
Now it's time to set up your content playlists. Essentially, you create a schedule for your content so that the right things are playing at the right time.
For example, maybe every Monday is employee appreciation day and you play slides featuring your employees' pictures and quotes. Or maybe, every day between 4 and 6 pm, you play motivational quotes and relaxing music. Or maybe you use the lunch hour to display important company announcements in the breakroom.
You'll set this up from the dashboard of your digital signage software. For best results, use a desktop or laptop computer, as it will be easier to see and use all of the various settings.
Step 4. Install your smart TV
Now, you need to choose your smart TV and mount it on the wall. Depending on your needs, this might look like purchasing a whole fleet of matching TVs or putting an old TV to use.
As mentioned before, you don't need media player hardware when using the browser method. All you need is a smart TV with a modern web browser and the hardware required to install it.
Smart TVs cost anywhere from $200 to $1000, while mounting hardware costs between $20 and $200.
For good mounting hardware, expect to pay about $50. Here's a top-rated product from Best Buy:
And if you don't have a smart TV, Samsung is usually a great brand for balancing quality with price. You'll pay around $300 to $600 for a large Samsung smart TV.
Step 5. Launch it
The final step is to launch your digital sign. Use your TV's web browser to navigate to your digital signage platform's website. Then login and launch your digital sign. It will automatically play the correct content according to your schedule.
If you want to make any changes to the content or schedule, simply login on your desktop or laptop computer and update the settings.
Top 7 digital signage tools that work in web browsers
Here are some of the best web-based signage platforms to consider:
Juuno is a user-friendly digital signage software for getting your business's displays up and running. You start by creating a playlist of the content you want to show, such as your Twitter feed, pictures of new staff, company notices, the weather, or any RSS feed. Creating digital signage with Juuno is a lot like putting together a playlist for your favorite songs.
It can work on any web browser, including Chrome, Samsung's browser, and many more. Best of all, it's only $20 per screen per month.
With OptiSigns, you have access to a wide range of templates to use with your digital signage solution. OptiSigns also offers a web player so your content can be played from any web browser. For the best experience, OptiSigns recommends using an Amazon Fire TV or adding an Amazon Fire Stick to any smart TV. Alternatively, you can purchase OptiSigns Android devices to manage digital signage across multiple locations.
So, if you're not an Amazon Fire user, this might not be the best option for you.
3. OnSign TV
OnSign TV offers a content editor, content management system, multilanguage functionality, and a variety of templates. The platform is compatible with all major web browsers and operating systems. With tags and categories, you can easily store, find, and re-use your content.
NoviSign is a good fit for enterprises, but offers too many features (at too high of a cost) for most businesses. The platform does offer many different content widgets, including weather, live news, social media, and RSS feeds.
The platform can be used for self-service informational kiosks in addition to digital signage.
ScreenCloud is a basic digital signage solution that lets you manage multiple screens from one place, bring your social media content into your signage, share business analytics dashboards, and broadcast videos. You can also use RSS feeds to display just about any type of content.
YoDeck works for displaying multimedia content, analytics dashboards, web pages, and a variety of widgets. You can use their screen template layouts to design your content without hiring a graphic designer. You can also schedule content in advance and manage multiple screens remotely.
SnapComms is an employee communication platform. You can send notifications to employees on their desktop computers and with an employees-only mobile app. The company also offers digital signage so you can set up announcements, birthday messages, and other workplace communication in the break rooms, meeting rooms, and other high-traffic areas.
Just add the right software to your smart TV, and you're off to the races.
For the simplest digital signage using any browser, check out Juuno.