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There are lots of different ways to display information in-game on a Minecraft server; signs, holograms, chest menus, the list goes on. But all of them have drawbacks that should be avoided.
Below is a comparison of the different approaches to signage.
Signs are the most common way to display things in-game. Pretty much any server you join will have these at their server spawns, often to display things like available commands or donator ranks. The main reasons signs are used the most is because they work in vanilla Minecraft - you don't need a server-side plugin just to use them, whereas for things like holograms and chest menus plugins are needed which need to be maintained on each Minecraft update. Generally speaking, using signs works well, but there are a few drawbacks:
Holograms have become very popular over the past 2 years. These are different to signs in that they allow you to display text in mid-air, which always faces your users. So if a player goes within 20 or so blocks they'll be sure to see it - compared to a sign which you'd need to be within say 3 or 4 blocks to read it. There are three big drawbacks to holograms:
SHAMELESS PLUG: We use holograms widely on our own server, take a look at our approach at www.minerifts.com.
Title Bars, Action Bars & Sidebars
This approach is something many servers do wrong. I explain issues such as text going off the screen on a separate tip here. Generally speaking you can display things like minigame stats & game progress in a sidebar, things like welcome messages & important notifications in title bar (the large text that appears in the middle of the screen) & things like countdowns & join/leave messages in an action bar (this is text that appears in the middle of your screen just above your health bar).
The general rule of thumb is to try and display only relevant information in these - don't display everything you can. For example on a minigame server displaying a players health & kills in a sidebar makes perfect sense, but on a Survival server this would just get very annoying. Another might be displaying join messages in an action bar for all players - which on a large server would cause serious spam, so having a setting to disable this would be useful, or maybe just display this for friends.
This is something that started appearing a few weeks ago. Typically chest menus are used for things like in-game shops, auctions or maybe displaying a list of friends. But recently servers have started using them to display things like server updates & announcements on login. This can be very effective because it's even more unique than holograms, and allows users to choose the information they see by clicking on for example a sword for pvp-related content, or a snow block for spleef-related things; done well this can be a great way to display information.