Digital Billboard Design Tips

Digital Billboards Massachusetts

Billboards continue to be a major component of modern day advertising for all types of companies and organizations.  They are used as a tool to connect with new potential customers on a daily basis, at all hours of the day.  Consumers drive the same routes to commute each day allowing for repeat impressions and ad campaign effectiveness.  Digital billboards have made the billboard advertising industry more effective and cost efficient for advertisers who need to change their message more frequently.

Although very similar, there are small variances in design recommendations for digital billboards as opposed to traditional static billboards.  With that in mind, here are recommended guidelines for designing a digital billboard:

Simplicity is the key to creating great out-of-home design

A billboard’s main purpose is functionality. Creating an effective digital billboard design is mainly about making it read.  Even the best design is worthless if it is not legible from a distance.  It is only after legibility has been mastered that creativity can follow.

Make the Text Large

Outdoor designs should be simple, clear and easy to read.  Digital Bulletins should be legible from 500 feet away.

Stick to one message or idea.  The key to effective outdoor is brevity.  Because your audience is mobile, you have to decide what’s most important and put that on your board.

Use Bold, Non-Serif Fonts

Always use large, legible typefaces.  At 500 feet, thin lines optically fade or break-up.  Avoid decorative, italic, or serif fonts.  As a general rule, upper and lower case Sans Serif fonts provide the best readability.  When designing for digital outdoor, we highly recommend adding a thin dark stroke around the text to separate it from the background.

Stick to One Message or Idea

Simplify everything.  Don’t present a complex message or numerous images.  Have one thing that you want your audience to do or to recognize.  The best outdoor media reduces a complex message to it’s essential elements.

Be Short and Sweet

Use no more than ten words total on the entire billboard – and that includes the logo / product tagline.  We recommend seven words or less for the headline.  Keep the words short for faster comprehension.


Use only RGB color files for digital displays.
  Design as you would for a website, TV or computer monitor.

Avoid White Backgrounds

To achieve white, a combination of all three colors must be turned on to their maximum brightness.  Consequently, white backgrounds will wash out and compete with the remainder of your creative.

 Use bright, bold colors

Stick with fully saturated web-safe hues.  Complimentary colors, such as red and green, are not legible together because they have similar value.  Contrasting color combinations work best for viewing outdoor designs at far distances.

Design with High Contrast

Being subtle does not work at great distances.  Strong contrast in both hue and value are essential for creating good digital out-of-home.

Pick Your Image Wisely

Take a small object and make it large (like a watch) rather than a large object small (like a building).  Avoid using landscapes or complex scenes.  We recommend 3 visual elements or less, total.  For example: 1 image, 1 logo and 1 headline.

Forget About White Space

White space does not apply in Outdoor like in printed material. Increase your logo, font sizes and imagery! Having unused visual space at 300 – 500 feet is not recommended.

Test Your Idea

A billboard is not a print ad.  The average viewing time is only about 5 seconds.  A good test is to show the design to someone from a distance for only 5 seconds and then ask them about it.  Did they understand it?  Who was the advertiser?  What do they think the advertiser wants them to do? 

You’ve got the flexibility so use it!

With no production charges and no installation schedule, digital advertising gives you freedom like never before. Change your message weekly, daily, or even hourly. Design a creative strategy to keep viewers coming back for more.

Digital Capabilities:

Consumers are inundated with advertising throughout the day. One way to reach a consumer is through relevant, timely advertisements. Change your digital advertisements to reflect current advertising messages.

Digital day parting capabilities allow customers and clients to plan ahead in a similar fashion to an editorial calendar.

Day parting capabilities include:

Day-to-Day Scheduling – allows an advertiser to change creative based on the current day of the week.

Within-Day Scheduling – an advertiser can change creative based on the current time of day.

Unplanned Scheduling – allows a customer to type a variety of messages into a text box-like location, providing a customer with the ability to change the text on a display at any time, day or night.


Countdowns generate hype and excitement within a community.  A countdown not only informs consumers of upcoming events, but it also reminds them to plan accordingly.

Automatic Countdowns – allows an advertiser to automatically count down to a specific date and/or time. The digital billboard is capable of counting down in days, hours, minutes, or a combination of these.

Social Media:

Digitals can be programmed to pull content submitted through social media – including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Score Display:

Allows an advertiser to show up-to-the- minute score updates for a chosen event to drivers passing their board.


From deciding on alternate routes to considering dinner options, traffic dictates consumer decisions. With over 200 million drivers in the U.S., it makes sense to get your business on the map by integrating traffic conditions into your digital advertising plan.  Digital traffic capabilities pull real time traffic information surrounding a given panel location.

Weather Triggers:

From deciding weekend plans to considering dinner options, weather dictates consumer decisions.  It makes sense to suggest your business’ products and services by integrating weather information into your next digital advertising campaign.

Learn More:

With an effective digital billboard design, you can be assured that your ad campaign will be a success. Please call or email us today for more details about digital billboard advertising anywhere in the US or internationally.

Call us at (617) 831-8029 or submit an on-line request.


Thanks to Clear Channel Outdoor, Outfront Media and Lamar Advertising Company for information included in this blog post.