Design Best Practices for E-ink Outdoor Content


Soofa Signs use a black and white electronic ink display, the same that you see on the Kindle. E-ink technology is a sustainable, low-energy, yet beautiful high-resolution display which refreshes content every two minutes. Soofa content is designed at 2160 x 2160 pixels, which looks much crisper, cleaner, and is easier to read than traditional LCD displays, due to it being reflective as opposed to backlit.

When designing your content for Soofa Signs, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Design in grayscale with a lot of contrast. Use black and white designs, and photographs with the contrast turned up to make content pop. If you are only able to repurpose a piece of colored content, make sure you bump up the contrast of the whole piece after you change it to grayscale.

  2. Design for pedestrian traffic with logical hierarchy. Many people will see your content from a short distance as they are walking by on sidewalks and then take the time to read it up close. Make sure your main message is visible from up to 20 feet away while also keeping in mind someone will view it from just a foot away.

  3. Opt to use graphics over photographs in certain cases. If a photograph is particularly reliant on color like food photography, it sometimes does not have the same effect in black and white.

  4. Have one call to action (CTA) in mind when designing. People don’t have a lot of time to process multiple CTAs on your design as they are walking by. For example, providing wayfinding information to a brick and mortar store is a great call to action to focus on with outdoor signage.

  5. Design and deliver multiple versions of your content for the campaign. You can combat ad blindness simply by rotating different designs on the Signs throughout the day. We recommend switching out your Soofa Sign content at least once per week.

See our spec sheet for design upload guidelines.

YOTEL uses simple hyperlocal messaging and wayfinding to attract new visitors in Boston’s Seaport.

YOTEL uses simple hyperlocal messaging and wayfinding to attract new visitors in Boston’s Seaport.


Why Black and White?

In our research and user experience studies, we have found that black and white signage does not detract from digital out of home campaigns. Rather, the electronic ink technology stands out from other outdoor placements, since it is a novelty to the public. Black and white design is timeless, creates more drama, and allows viewers to concentrate on imagery and composition rather than color. Ultimately, viewers tend to see black and white content as inherently informative and take the time to look.

A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that, “Black-and-white images can lead consumers to focus on the abstract, essential, and defining components of a product. In contrast, color images can draw attention to the concrete, sometimes unimportant and idiosyncratic features of the product.”

Live Nation uses high contrast design to display their Atlanta concert calendar.

Live Nation uses high contrast design to display their Atlanta concert calendar.


Recommended Design Tools:

We recommend using the free design tool Canva to create your Soofa Sign content if you don’t have access to or experience with the Adobe Suite. Canva is a web-based drag-and-drop design tool and provides an enormous amount of pre-made templates for use and inspiration.

Canva recently released a learning resource called Design School, where anyone can learn design best practices and detailed instruction on how to use the tool itself through videos and step by step instructions.

Learn more digital out of home best practices in our Soofa Year in Review whitepaper.


Check out some of the beautiful content that has been posted on Soofa Signs this past year.


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Sandra Richter