The Widen digital asset manager series: Being a Widen DAMster with Connor Gleason of Curry College

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Connor Gleason is the Campus Photographer at Curry College. He studied photography at Ithaca College and went to grad school for photojournalism at Boston University. Before coming to Curry College, Connor worked in the newspaper industry and as a photo studio manager and freelance photographer. Digital asset management is big part of Connor’s workflow every day.

And, to give you an idea of where you can find Connor, here’s a photo of his workspace!

Connor Gleason of Curry College

1. How long have you been a Widen user?
I’ve been with Curry College for a little over two years. Part of my role when I was brought on was to research a digital asset management system. We needed a more organized, efficient management system for our team’s workflow, so I started to research systems that would make the most sense for Curry. We’ve been working with Widen for a little over a year. In a short time frame, we were up and running and able to see some real benefits.
2. How often do you use the Media Collective?
I use it all day, every day. A lot of my department uses it as well. I’ve designed our Collective to have new materials for users to explore, such as new daily content like photos of the day, passing along information about updates from Widen, and DAM tips and tricks. I try to make it as engaging as possible, so they want to keep using the system.
I’m sharing all of that information through the DAM system right now. I’m using “New Asset” alerts, and making use of the system messages to tell users that I have information for them.
3. What are your users doing with the Media Collective? What kind of feedback do you hear from them about it?
Right off the bat, I was getting feedback about how simple the system was to use. Users were finding assets quicker and easier, and having access to content they didn’t have before because it was unorganized and difficult to find. They learned the DAM system and hit the ground running. We can collect and use our assets better than ever before and now get what we need in a couple of moments.
4. For what kinds of activities are you using the Media Collective? How are you using site analytics and Google Analytics?
On a daily basis, we access photos for web placement, print media, and ad campaigns. We’ve uploaded photo releases, interview transcripts, logos, and documents to improve the searchability of our assets, but also for archiving purposes. Sharing is a huge part of what we’re doing with the Collective, which is a great alternative to clogging networks with high-res files.
As the System Administrator, I’m doing 99% of the uploading for our team, so I’m always uploading, downloading, and updating metadata.

Regarding site analytics, it’s been really beneficial to us. Before and during the implementation phase, we knew it would be important to track ROI – the Collective has been a big investment for our college, so the site analytics have been really helpful in giving quantitative support as to how it’s been a positive experience. A lot of my supervisors want quantitative data as it relates back to ROI. With the site analytics, we can track who’s using it, which assets are being used, and how we’re utilizing storage. I do quarterly evaluations based on calendar and fiscal year with our analytics. After a quick numbers crunch, it’s clear that the DAM system will pay for itself within a year. With Google Analytics, we’ve just begun to look more into how our users navigate the system, what they’re searching for, and how to use it as a tool to improve our keywords and metadata. Now that we have it, it would be difficult to go back to the way we were doing things. It’s such a great resource for us. We function better as a team, so we can’t go back.
5. What are some helpful things Widen does to help you make the most of the Media Collective?
Widen has been great with support to myself and to our users. It’s not only tech support, but the staff, like Ashley, patiently answer a lot of questions. They give answers. The support videos and online resources are good resources. A lot of time if I’m looking for answers, they’re already on the Admin support site. The customer webinars are a great resource to demo new features on the site, or as a refresher on some of the bigger concepts. Widen’s staff helps us stay informed and educated, and they provide a great opportunity for feedback on the DAM systems with support reps and also developers. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and laid back. The huge undertaking at the beginning (to get the DAM system setup) has been more enjoyable and easier to do because of the support we get from Widen.
6. Is there anything special or unique you've created, as a result, to help your users with the Media Collective?
I hold group-training sessions every few months. We have 17 active users, so it’s a small team and when new users are added, I do one-on-one training. They pick it up in about 45 minutes and while I make myself available for answers, I’ve also created a white paper with resources for our users to use as a reference.

7. What is the best thing the Media Collective has done for Curry College so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing, but it’s certainly redefined our workflows and efficiency. What used to take hours, now takes minutes. What took minutes, now takes seconds. We have peace of mind with our assets, knowing they’re backed up and accessible. There is a strong sense of community at Curry, and in a way, the Collective has opened up all these new possibilities as a department. The Collective mirrors who we are as an institution, so it’s easier to communicate who we are and share our brand in the field of higher education.
8. What are your favorite apps on your phone?
I frequently work with our social media expert, so a lot of our content is found in our social media outlets and he uses the DAM to access that content. We’re always utilizing social networking apps.
9. What do you think is the most important thing other users should know about using a digital asset management system?
I would say that if I were able to go back to myself a year ago, I would tell myself that it’s important to understand the system is always evolving. It progresses and can only get better. During implementation, we made choices about how the system was originally set up and that was a lot of pressure. But I was happy to see that the DAM system was easy to adjust and customize on an as-needed basis. After getting user feedback, I was able to change some things with our metadata and permissions and the look of things. Nothing is set in stone, and the system is designed for change. DAM systems are living things. They require some initial resource time, but it’s a worthy investment because they can only improve workflow efficiencies as a result.

Topics: Customer Stories, DAMsters

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