Last October at the Widen Summit, an annual event for customers, we hosted the first-ever Best DAM contest. The contest featured five outstanding administrators that advanced digital asset management at their organization. During the contest, each admin shared information about their system, users, structure, and creativity during an eight-minute presentation in front of 200 industry professionals and four judges. Audience members and judges voted on a winner.
Lexy Spry, training specialist and the face of Widen University, hosted the event. She guided participants through the phases of the contest. The contestants competing for the honor of best DAM and a trophy were:
- Kelsey Berg of Footjoy
- Jane Leuchter of The Institute for Functional Medicine
- Alberto Orihuela of Zeiss Microscopy
- Beth Straeten of National Gypsum
- Jennifer Tyner of Progressive Insurance
Each contestant focused on what makes their Widen Collective® site great, covering topics from implementation to asset organization to international sales strategy. One person emerged the winner with a DAM site that was designed for ease of use and a commitment to understanding the needs of users.
That person was Jane Leuchter, a trained librarian and full-time admin at The Institute for Functional Medicine. Audience feedback showed that people were overwhelmingly impressed with the way she engaged users and set up opportunities for them to improve their DAM use.
To inspire your own user engagement tactics, I interviewed Jane about how — and why — she connects with her users. The three main tactics she uses are Widen Wednesdays, a bi-weekly email to users, the Widen Whale, an award she hands out to top users, and drop-in sessions. Below are excerpts from our chat.
Laurel Norris: Thanks for joining me today, Jane. I wanted to have a conversation about the Best DAM contest. I recently compiled the audience ballots, where they indicated who they thought should win and why.
There was so much feedback from people about your presentation, particularly around your user engagement techniques. People were really impressed with how you prioritize user needs when you make decisions about your DAM site.
To start, what made you start these user engagement techniques or methods, particularly the Widen Whale and Widen Wednesdays?
Jane Leuchter: I’m a librarian. When I started, I was hired to find a DAM system and set it up. And I was excited!
I also realized that not everyone was as into metadata and taxonomy as I was. A DAM would be new to most people, so I started Widen Wednesdays, small reminders that Widen is here and you can use it, it’s easy to use, and it is not terrifying. You too can update metadata without having a panic attack.
The emails were a natural place to start because I’d found myself having to explain something to a couple people or had the same question come up. I thought, oh, I could send out an email and let everybody know about this, or point them to a resource about it.
LN: People at the Best DAM contest loved the Widen Whale, which is literally a printed, laminated whale that you give out to people. How did that come about?
JL: The whale was about public acknowledgement. How can I publicly acknowledge people for using Widen, increase their comfort level with the software, remind them that they can use it, and keep it in their minds?
I wanted to celebrate people who were using it instead of asking people to use it. Make it a positive thing. So, about once a month at a staff meeting, I hijack the last five minutes to call out one person who has been using Widen particularly well and give them a whale. They get recognition, and the other people hear how someone is using Widen and helping us.
The message is “If you want to, you can also use Widen and get this cute laminated whale.”
LN: You mentioned increasing people’s comfort level with the software. Can you talk more about that?
JL: A lot of what people call user engagement I think of “comfort level increase.” I want people to know they can use the software. I’m here to help them be successful and answer any questions they have.
I always try to make my interactions with users positive. I might tell someone, “It’s great that you’re uploading stuff; I have one small tweak.” I don’t want to scare people off. I want to recognize their work and talk about how to improve it.
LN: That’s a great attitude. How do you manage the drop-in work sessions you host?
JL: I usually host them twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I schedule a half hour where I’m in a conference room working on DAM-related stuff and people can come in and talk through something, ask questions, or work through challenges. Sometimes they go over the half hour because people have a lot to talk about.
I send a calendar invite out to all my users and set up an online meeting as well in case remote employees want to join.
I also print up a sign that says “Widen drop-ins in session,” because I had a lot of people interrupt other meetings I had with people, wondering if it was a drop in. I had to be like, “No, come back on Tuesday.”
LN: It’s really remarkable to me how you have raised awareness and made the Collective visible in a lot of small ways and places. It seems like all of those things add up to having this really great user engagement.
JL: Thank you. I’m lucky in that I have a small organization and I can talk to everybody individually if I want to. I’m not a company with 6,000 users and, like, a team of 12 or whatever it is, so I can really go in and talk to the individual who’s responsible for doing whatever task it is and sit down and say, “Okay, I want to watch you go through this, and I want to ask you how you’re doing this, and I want to see where you stumble and find yourself confused.”
I recognize that not all admins have that luxury.
LN: I understand completely. Last question: What advice do you have for DAM admins?
JL: Listen to your users, but always take it with a grain of salt, and don’t overreact. If somebody says, “Oh, I must have this,” don’t automatically change it. Try to figure out why they want the change. It could be that something truly isn’t working for them, but there could be a solution there if you look at it together.
A lot of user happiness is about having conversations with your users and letting them know that you are here to listen, hear what they want from the system, and make sure it works for everybody.
I also say be patient! When people are very adamant about not wanting to change or not liking something, it can come from fear of change. Everybody has that knee-jerk reaction, even when they are excited about change. It can be stressful to do something different, especially when you have a lot of responsibilities. I was all gung-ho about the DAM, but I still have knee-jerk reactions to change in other areas! Be patient and take it slow. Eventually, they’ll come around.