W. W. Norton – Digital Asset Management
UX · 2016-2017
A project that explored digital asset management and rights management for art and photography.
The Digital Asset Management project was started to address file management issues users were facing on a daily basis. These users needed a better way to find assets they needed for their products and manage those assets in the years to come. Assets used in books, ebooks, and student websites were often stored on physical media or shared network drives. This made it hard to locate the actual disk, or know what the file name might be. This lead to lost files, low quality copies, or even broken assets persisting through project versions. Assets were duplicated which quickly took up a lot of file space.
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.
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.
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.