We’ve all had a college professor, manager, or coworker teach us the golden rule of PowerPoint presentations: reduce clutter. They told you to minimize the number of words on each slide, use lots of images, and emphasize white space. Doing these things allows the presenter to get their point across without overloading their audience with information.
The same golden rule applies to digital asset libraries where organization’s store their valuable images, videos, design files, and branding materials. Without a concerted effort to organize and manage them, they can become a chaotic mess. Assets get thrown into the wrong folders or worse, no folders at all, and are difficult, if not impossible, to find when needed. Like a PowerPoint slide full of paragraphs, cluttered, disorderly asset libraries can easily overwhelm users who access them.
New employees don’t know where to begin looking for a specific asset, and knowledgeable ones don’t have time to explain the method, if any, to the madness. As a result, the burden of finding and distributing images falls on the few people in the organization that know where specific assets are kept. This makes them the de facto “gatekeepers” of the library and takes time away from their more important responsibilities.
Creating Calm from Chaos
Think back to a clean-looking PowerPoint presentation you’ve watched. There’s a beauty to it, right? Well-organized content not only pleases the eye but calms the brain as well. Conversely, looking at a messy, cluttered, and disorganized presentation can make you feel anxious. This anxiety can cause you to put off reviewing the presentation or to not watch it at all. Anxiety is a common cause of reduced productivity and thus negatively impacts an organization’s bottom line. This dynamic is described more fully in Stewart Geddes’ article found here.
In the world of digital asset management (DAM), having a disorganized, cluttered, and messy asset library reduces the productivity of its users and thus can be detrimental to the success of a campaign or marketing effort. When employees can’t easily find the best asset for their needs, or one with up-to-date copyright permissions, or even one which is consistent with the organization’s current branding, their work suffers. This can negatively impact the organization’s bottom line or lead to legal troubles when an asset is used incorrectly.
You may look at the current state of your asset library, whether it exists on servers, SharePoint, or a DAM platform, and feel hopeless. Attempting to overhaul it seems to be a task suited for Hercules himself. However, it’s possible to do it by focusing on small, obtainable wins. Below, we outline some best practices for creating an easy-to-navigate asset library.
Best Practices for Decluttering your Asset Library
1. Create Your Folder Structure
The first step in creating an easy-to-navigate and understand asset library is nailing down the terms and layout of your folder structure. To do this effectively, you’ll need to gather all core stakeholders with knowledge of the library and its challenges. Then work with this group to create an organizational structure that uses your internal language and is simple enough that a user with little to no experience with your library can find what they need.
2. Tackle One Group at a Time
As stated above, the secret to tackling a task that seems overwhelming is to focus on small wins. To this end, take each step in this process one section at a time. This can mean different things for different organizations. Some will decide to organize their most recent assets first. Others will begin by focusing on one file type at a time. Still others will start with the assets they use most. Wherever you begin, build out the folder structure for those assets first, rename them, and move them into the correct folders. Then move to the next group and do the same.
3. Use File Names Effectively
File names are key to organizing assets at the bottom of the folder structure. By using standardized naming conventions, assets will naturally be organized in a way that makes sense to users. There are a few best practices that should be followed when naming assets. First, placing the date at the beginning of the file name in a YYYYMMDD format, ensures that the most recent assets will be organized at the top of every folder. Second, adding a sequence number at the end of the file name keeps all the assets from the same date and event organized in a way that allows users to see the event playing out as it did in real-time.
4. Get Creative!
When it comes to making your organization’s asset library searchable, it’s easy to get bogged down in technicalities. At the end of the day, you know best what will make sense to employees searching for assets. For this reason, think outside the box! Test color coding or experiment with your folder structure or file naming conventions.
5. A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place
Once you’ve developed your folder structure and file naming conventions, gathered your team’s feedback, and locked things in, it’s time to migrate your assets from your old organizational structure to the new one. After that, it’s up to you and your team to manage your library and ensure that new assets are tagged correctly and uploaded to the right folders. Without proper, ongoing governance, clutter will result and you’ll have to start the cleanup process all over again.
Do you need help developing a folder structure, file naming conventions, or prioritizing your assets? Do you need support renaming, tagging, or migrating assets? If so, Stacks can help! We work with brands big and small to achieve the small wins that create huge organizational change, without your needing to hire someone full-time. Contact us today to learn more and get your free, no-strings-attached library assessment.