Efficiency is one of the hallmarks of DAM software but even so, if certain steps are not taken to keep digital assets organized, users may find no big difference between using the fancy new DAM system or outdated and inefficient “status quo” methodologies that they are accustomed to keeping and finding digital assets. As this defeats one of the main purposes of incorporating digital asset management programs into marketing strategies, administrators and managers of DAM systems should make sure that they utilize the following tips for better organization of digital assets:
Metadata. Proper organization of digital assets with a DAM system is all about metadata so it pays to thoroughly understand what this term means. “Metadata” refers to the descriptive information that can be used for easy cataloging of digital files. This hugely simplifies the process of searching for and finding materials in a digital asset library because they are organized by terms related to such useful aspects as creator, publisher, location and others as opposed to being grouped together in an uncategorized manner.
Use metadata that works. Administrators of digital assets need to make sure that they are categorized and tagged with appropriate terms to enable users to easily find them. Although metadata fields vary by organization, in general, there are certain standards to follow such as with the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). These include such aspects as date, creator, format, contributor, source, and subject. Again, you’ll want to choose common fields for your organization so users search on what is most obvious and relevant to their day-to-day needs. One other quick tip is to keep your metadata model simple enough so upkeep is manageable over time.
Controlled vocabulary. Tagging assets with various keywords is an essential part of cataloging assets with metadata, but there should be some control over keywords used since phrases and words often vary by individual and department. To overcome difficulties associated with using varied vocabularies for digital image management, controlled fields can be set in place using drop-downs, palettes and check-boxes as opposed to free-form text blocks. Again, be sure to think about what your users are likely to search on when setting this up.
Importing metadata. To reduce the time associated with manually generating/tagging metadata, efforts should be made to automatically populate it into the DAM system. One way of accomplishing this is by importing metadata from an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file matched by common filename. Another effective way is to automatically map embedded metadata such as with IPTC, EXIF or XMP to searchable metadata fields in your DAM system, which is read and populated at the time of upload. Many DAM tools also contain batching tools to apply common metadata to assets sharing the same values, categories and rights information.
To learn more about how metadata can be used to organize digital assets, download the new Widen white paper on “Best Practices for Metadata in DAM Systems” as an introductory guide to what you should be thinking about.
Of course, metadata and its relationship to digital assets is just one side of organizing your DAM... The other side deals with segmenting and controlling your various user groups. Be sure to check out the post on "Digital Asset Management User Roles and Permissions" to learn more about governing your user base.