Digital displays

Customers travelling on TfL’s network will often interact with multiple displays on their journey. Each display has a specific role to play, showing information that’s relevant and supporting decisions made at key moments — often within seconds.

Our guidelines ensure suppliers and partners working with us, make the most of the unique features and benefits of digital displays in the context of journeys, provide guidance on identifying relevant information at the right time and help align with our global, inclusive design language.

Each display will be viewed at a specific time and location. This is an opportunity to help customers make the right decision for a more comfortable journey — ‘How busy will the next train be and is there an alternative if it’s very busy?’, ’When will it become quieter?’, ’Is there a delay and are there any other options if it’s severe?’ ’Which platform should I look out for?’

At the same time, it’s important to consider the relationship between different displays and other customer information, such as maps, printed posters, signage and announcements — together, these points in the information landscape can be choreographed to form a clear and cohesive experience that provides the right information at the right time.

When providing customers with a display, the first step is to define its specific role.

1. Define the role of each digital display

  • How will information in the ticket hall, on the platform and on the train be different. What is the most useful advice at each point?
  • How will this change and adapt throughout a typical day?
  • How might planned and unforeseen events affect what’s shown
  • Where in the station, or at the bus stop, would that information have the most impact?
  • Paying for a journey is a key decision a customer makes. Are they receiving the best information for their onward journey, before the gate line?
  • Are customers entering or exiting the station and how does the information they encounter best inform the next step in their journey? For example, screens facing customers exiting might have to show very different information, than screens facing customers entering the station.

A wide range of displays exist across TfL services.

The specifications of these will vary in age, technology, display resolution, hardware, size, placement and energy use.

Displays are often grouped together to create a larger display area and the placement of displays has a great impact in defining the best type and format of information to display.

After deciding what type of information needs to be on each display along the most common customer journeys in your environment, it’s important to look at the physical context in which the displays live.

2. Consider the physical environment

  • How is the built environment surrounding the display affecting the information that’s displayed? Is it a large or small space? Is it open air or indoors? How are light or busyness affecting its visibility?
  • Which way is the display facing? Is it facing towards the entrance, exit or corridor?
  • How high is the display? Is it at eye-level or higher?
  • What would the maximum distance be, that this screen needs to be legible from?
  • How many displays are present in that vicinity? Do they convey similar or different information?

The physical space shapes how users can interact with displays. Understanding this, is fundamental to the experience and design of the display’s content.

Additionally, customers don’t entirely rely on digital displays, they carry with them travel apps on personal devices. How can you create a complementary relationship between the multiple tools at a customer’s disposal?

Digital displays can show hyper-local and timely information, while existing in physical space. For example, a display above a staircase can indicate the direction to the nearest working lift, a display on a platform can indicate which section of the train will be quieter or busier.

Making the most of the specific context and environment of digital displays can help users navigate TfL’s services smoothly without having to pause to find information on an app.

On the other hand, handing over to TfL Go, our travel app, at times of disruption — for example via QR-codes — could be a good way to complement information on displays and provide further detail and help customers to replan or find nearby alternative options during times of disruption.

3. Understand the relationship between digital displays and mobile apps

  • Is the display focussed on information that customers can not easily find on an app
  • Where could a handover to TfL Go be useful to customers? For example to show more information, provide alternatives or help and support during major events

Lastly, all new designs for digital displays should align with our new digital design language for consistency, accessibility and a more modular, spacious layout that enables live information to be displayed in a more intelligent, timely and dynamic way.

4. Align with TfL’s global, inclusive design language for consistency and branding

With new live data and display capabilities, we’re now able to design features that adapt and change based on events and time of day, providing a much more dynamic experience.

For example:

  • Previously static, time-tabled bus routes, become rich, dynamic live routes, showing how busy the next bus might be, whether there are delays ahead, or closed bus stops.
  • Diversions and disruptions can be shown in real time and useful, timely alternatives can be provided based on the changing status of stations, bus routes and weather.
  • Depending on time, day and location, information might change

Our new digital design language has been designed to provide much more complex, rich and dynamic live information in clear, legible and inclusive ways. It removes superfluous, static and decorative elements, focuses on clear, legible and accessible typography, iconography and modular layout that can change and respond to different screen sizes, contexts and events.

The new design language also provides clear branding without the need to use valuable space for logos or branding elements — by aligning with TfL’s wider wayfinding system and design environment in terms of colours, type, iconography. It is a carefully crafted expression of our brand for the digital era.

To make a start, please align with the following foundations:

We will soon provide more detailed guidance on how to use type, colours, icons and motion on screens. So please, come back for more soon. In the meantime don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like some advice for your project.


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