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5 tips for your metadata structure

5 tips for your metadata structure

Digital asset management is all about metadata. Without a well-maintained and useful metadata structure, it is difficult to move away from the classic folder structure. Clever search and filter functions in a DAM system can make it easier to find files. However, this requires a sensible metadata structure and/or keywording of all digital assets. This article shows you what to consider and provides some tips to help you create a meaningful and easy-to-maintain metadata structure:

Less is more

When a company decides to implement digital asset management software, there are usually already many images, videos, layouts and other files existing. Starting from this basis, it is important to think of a meaningful keywording to categorize these files systematically. Depending on the files that are predominantly worked with and who the main users of the DAM system are, the metadata structure can be aligned accordingly. In creating a useful metadata structure, you should focus on being able to filter a manageable overview of eligible files. A structure that maps every single file in the system is usually too detailed.

Having not enough metadata won't help speed up the search, but having too much can be time-consuming to maintain. Therefore, focus on the most important information. Product images, for example, could be found by product number. Photos of people, on the other hand, could be filtered by the people depicted on them. Start simple and build up the structure gradually. You will notice some things only during your everyday work with the DAM system.

Be prepared for the fact that thinking about a meaningful structure and the tagging of all already existing files is initially associated with some effort. However, this will pay off in the end, as you will be able to find the files much faster and save a lot of time.

Fixed metadata fields instead of free keywording

Many DAM systems offer different types of metadata fields: In addition to free-text fields for inserting keywords, checkboxes and selection fields that allow multiple selections or can be expanded hierarchically are also possible. Such fixed fields facilitate the input enormously.

Free keywords can offer more flexibility to address different assets. At the same time, they also offer more opportunities for errors, for example, when spelling mistakes sneak in or users use different terms. Predefined vocabularies or a keyword collection that is binding for everyone can help. So consider how much flexibility you need and what you can cover with fixed metadata fields and vocabularies instead. In addition, free keyword entry can take a lot of maintenance. It is easier if fixed metadata fields have to be filled in or if the DAM system already fills in a lot of metadata information automatically.

Tips for free keywording:

For free keywords, you can set some rules in advance: for example, decide whether to use plural or singular, or always specify both forms. A predefined keyword list can combine duplicates and synonyms - for example, if users search for "car", they can automatically be shown results with the keyword "automobile". Abbreviations should also be used consistently, here it also helps to define a uniform rule.

Automate as much as possible

Each file already contains some metadata by itself, such as the file format or size. Many metadata standards such as ITPC/XMP data are already stored on photo files, for example. A DAM system can read this information, process it, and store it on the asset, making it visible to users if necessary. Such information can be used as filter options. It is also possible to read out further information directly from a file, e.g. simply from the file name or the previous folder structure.

You can also link the DAM system to other systems to ensure automatic metadata exchange. By linking to the PIM system, for example, additional product information from the PIM system can be pinned to the file in the DAM system - if the article number is specified - and used here as a search or filter function. When a file is assigned to a category or folder in the DAM system, it can automatically receive the directory metadata.

Did you know that stock images provide keywords and licensing rules directly with the download? Simply transfer them to the DAM system, then you can also search here for the keywords that you used to find the image in the stock database.

Show only the relevant metadata fields 

The photographer is interested in ISO and aperture values, but the marketing manager may only need the pixel size of the photo. The marketing department needs to see and access all files, including editing files like InDesign, while only the final PDFs are relevant to sales. Too much - unneeded - information on one file can confuse users. This is where roles and permissions help: Who should be able to see and edit which metadata field? For which user group is which information hidden? Decide which values should be displayed to which users, enabling everyone to work effectively.

Provide newly uploaded files with an editing status

Newly uploaded files can, for example, be given the status "still needs to be tagged" or something similar. These files can be collected in a basket/category and additionally marked with an icon so that it is immediately apparent which files still require additional information. It is also possible that these files that still need to be keyworded are only visible to the person who uploaded them. Other users will not see the files until all keywords have been assigned. Or you create some metadata fields as mandatory fields, which must be filled in directly when uploading new files. There are several ways to create a meaningful workflow here.

Experience pays off

When it comes to designing metadata sets and helpful workflows, experience pays off above all. Our experts have already implemented many DAM systems in different industries and companies. We would be happy to support you in creating a good metadata structure.Together with you, we analyze your previous file status and its structure. We will show you the possibilities offered by our Cavok DAM and, in consultation with you, decide which functions will make your everyday work easier and which features you can safely do without. We will also advise you on which automatic workflows can be developed and how the DAM system can be integrated into your system landscape. As already mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is recommended to start rather simply. Our team will continue to provide you with intensive support after the system has been introduced and will assist you with successive extensions.

"We are looking forward to supporting you in creating a metadata structure that is right for you. Let us advise you without obligation on how a digital asset management system can bring more order to your digital files."

Gunter Leonhardt, CEO PEAK-14 GmbH

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