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W. W. Norton—Digital Asset Management

UX · W. W. Norton & Co, Inc · 2016-2017

File archiving is a stringent and essential process. The archives that existed were hard to manage from quality, quantity, and permissions standpoints. We wanted to improve asset discovery and management to ease these pain points.


Since we were aware of general pain points, we held a design studio to hear everyones needs and frustrations of file management. The design studio informed us of a number of additional complexities we’d need to plan for.

Stakeholders viewing post it notes on a whiteboard.

We knew from the get go that we wanted to eliminate multiple copies of the same file as well as increasing discoverability of that file. An unexpected side effect of the manual file management was that they often preferred duplicates of a file so that they could give it different names depending on which version of a book it existed in. For instance: An image could exist as figure 4.3 in the full version of a book, but potentially as figure 1.3 in a brief edition.

The permissions department taught us a lot about rights and permissions for various image types. Some images were owned by the company and therefore meant we had a lot of flexibility of how we could use them. Others were art pieces that had incredibly specific requirements for their use.


Extensive discussion with stakeholders helped us create this asset page. The asset is now identified with a unique ID as well as a user friendly custom name. The page also displays which products the image is used so that a user can easily navigate between similar content. Permissions are displayed up front and affect how the asset displays to various user roles. For example, an asset with very restrictive permissions would not have a “share” button.

Dashboard of projects to enable people to quickly access projects they are working on.
Image Asset page wireframe

Once we were in a good spot with the asset pages we began designing the folders that would hold the assets and a user dashboard. Our users wanted to get to their projects quickly, or search for an existing project. Even if they didn’t know which specific asset they needed, they typically knew what product would have content they could use. These pages highlight a product or asset name and include a visual representation of the assets to help with quick scanning.

Dashboard of projects to enable people to quickly access projects they are working on.
Dashboard of projects.

Project Wireframes


Search for a project

Search for an asset