Organizing Your Asset Library: How to Get Started

CORRIEAs creatives we want everything to look good. We accomplish this through thoughtful design. Managing your production process should be no different.  Before jumping into building out your cloud-based asset library there are a few key questions you need to ask yourself to make sure it’s “designed thoughtfully” as well.  We asked globaledit Account Manager, Corrie Zaccaria, for best practices when setting up an asset library to ensure that it’s organized, secure, and fits your workflow. Here are a few questions to consider when building the blueprints of a new asset library:

1. What does your current server look like? What works and what doesn’t about the folder structure?

This is the first opportunity to learn from your mistakes and fix organizational problems in your production workflow. Identifying the key issues that don’t work is the start of creating a foundation for a new asset library.  For example, are too many people accessing a folder on your server so files get moved and misplaced? Are you able to share the right files with the right people on your team?  Can you currently manage confidential or restricted files?

2. Who needs to access particular files, jobs or folders?  And who should be restricted?

This is where we evaluate the dynamic of how people work together in their current workflow.  Some teams are small and open with access to everything, whereas other teams are extremely secure with permissions due to legal or confidentiality reasons.  Asking about the current pain points of file access is key.  Is the marketing team accessing visual assets before they’re finalized and going to print with the wrong resolution? Or does the Creative Director only want to review final photo selects without having to see all of the raw images?  Once you understand each person’s function and the access they should have you can put them into buckets of user groups.  From here you can create a blueprint of a new folder structure to ensure you have the proper rights management in place before you upload anything.

3. What kind of access do different team members need?

The next part of rights management is identifying and assigning the specific rights of each of the user groups you’ve put into buckets.  This varies from team to team, so there are no hard and fast rules. This step is an exercise in teasing out the nitty-gritty of your specific workflow.  It takes some time, but the deeper you dive the better your folder structure will be from the get-go.

4. What do you want to prioritize: Workflow or Content?

Most digital asset libraries are based around either workflow, final content being produced, or a mix of the two.

  • Workflow: This type of folder structure is typically job based, with a sub folder for each step in the production process.  So you might start with a folder with all of the assets from the photo shoot, then have a sub folder with selects, followed by retouched selects, followed by final usable assets.
  • Content:  Content based libraries are focused on the final outlet.  An organization might be more concerned with where assets need to go e.g. in-store, catalogue, web, etc. Within each of those folders is where the raw, retouched, finals, etc. live.
5. How long are you keeping images? Do you need a long-term DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT (DAM) system?

Before you finalize your library, think of the long term.  The best asset library management systems take the full life cycle of an asset into consideration.  Are you going to archive assets after a certain amount of time?  Do you need access to the archive or can it be stored elsewhere?  Whether you’re using globaledit to archive your assets or not, defining a system before you have a folder structure can save you a ton of time down the road.

A few extra tips:

1. Don’t use emoji’s or symbols in the names of your folders.  Unusual characters can cause problems in downloading and uploading files.

2. Take the opportunity to standardize your file naming convention.  Though it takes a little wrangling, standardization is hugely helpful when searching for assets and being able to know what a folder contains by the information in its name.

Taking the time to answer these basic questions is vital to creating a well-structured media library.  You’ll save time, work more intelligently and streamline your creative production workflow.  Keep in mind that it’s equally important to maintain that structure through standardization and compliance after the system is in place.  Stay tuned for tips and best practices for ongoing digital asset library management coming up on the blog.

Need help on organizing your digital asset library in globaledit or need a creative production workflow audit? Contact our support team or request a demo with our workflow specialist!