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I'm designing a display which will present current news updates as either a local or regional news post. The monitors displaying the news will be located in shared areas in a variety of hospitals and health care centers.

The display is divided into two horizontal surfaces with the local on the left and the regional on the right. Each surface displays five news items, with the two most recent ones with more surface and thereby more information.

The news are also color coded, with red ones indicating alert, blue heads up's and yellow as more normal/non-critical news updates. (The indicators will have a different visual expression in the final version to avoid issues with color blindness).

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What I feel as a problem here is that it gets quite crowded? I feel like maybe there's "too much" information? Thing is that I don't want the display to have any scrolling behavior, or toggle the information that is being displayed in the news cells (that is unless new news items are being posted pushing an old one out).

I guess what I really want to know is if the info that is being displayed is "too much" considering a viewer should get an idea of what's going on with a ~10 sec glance. Does anyone have any experience or data regarding this type of work?

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    No scroll behaviour could lead to uncomfortable situations. Scenario: I look a the screen (quick glance) and my attenttion gets drawn by a red element on the bottom. Before i can get a clue, what it is about, an update occurs and throws the current "interesting" message out of sight. (Think of update rate) I like the idea with the reduced views of older posts – Stefan Wasserbauer Nov 17 '14 at 11:30
  • @StefanWasserbauer Thanks for the input. I'm with you on the point about automatic scrolling. I don't want any automatic update of the content just because of that reason. – AndroidHustle Nov 17 '14 at 11:39
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A friend and colleague of mine did a research on non-interactive screens. Eventhough he only had one column, I'm happy to share some insights with you. (His system was a continous stream of information, updated around 10x per hour. More like a news dashboard in a tech company)

  • visusal expressions and especially colors help to recognize and prioritize information fast
  • new items should always be on top
  • short and meaningfull titles in combination with an icon or image are also very helpful if time is limited (maybe icons in the importance color to reduce clutter)
  • always include a source for further information (e.g. a person, department, twitter account ...)
    • always remove whole elements if they don't fit above the fold (no partially shown news)

Maybe this helps. Good luck with your project.

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When you don't have a interactive system, you can show the detailed information of each item at different times, avoiding to clutter the space with unneeded info.

If the viewer wants to know details about specific information (s)he will wait until the full information shows in the screen. If the information shown on the list (heading) is enough for the user, (s)he won't have to stop to know what (s)he needs to know.

If is needed to show more information that screen size allows, the list on the bottom could scroll continuously (slowly), And the detailed information could use a different transition in order to visually separate the top and bottom half.

Also you can use a background or a different indicator to show user which information of the list is being displayed in detail in the top section.

Mockup

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If its information that the user could benefit from further reading, consider the following:

Give each item a character limit (something like the twitter model). You can test to find the optimum length, as you could probably get away with slightly more than 140 characters. The thinking here is two-fold:

  • you may find the shorter snippets easier for people to digest, and remember (especially if important).
  • It allows you to manage your limited physical space a little easier as well.

  • In addition, an alternative place they can see a full list and read at their own pace (such as a web feed/app with all the articles), may prove helpful, as you can go into more detail if needed as well. You could place a prominent call to action that says "For more detail on any of these news items, see: / QR code / other means of obtaining more information on the physical display .

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It seems the display is really too crowded — the density of information is too high, especially in your context of hospitals (not young people, many of them with eye diseases).

At first, decrease the length of the message, as @Simwill told, increase font size, make more white space. If it is not possible for long messages, you may take in your attention the approach of information displays at airports or dashboards of automated queues at banks — switching from one to another screen state and back every X seconds (usually, about 10-30, but it is always worth testing). So put less messages in the screen but switch them regularly — it also can add dynamics to your dashboard.

Also background color coding can improve difference between messages and decrease visual noise (currently on your sketch the noise is too high, better to use tiles as in Windows, but not so variegated). Adding icons or images to certain messages can increase their visibility to users.

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