It may be weird to admit this but…I just love digital asset management. Like in a very intensely unhealthy way.
Maybe it’s the organizational aspect of it. Maybe it’s the satisfaction I receive when I take a long, arduous photo publication process and manage to get it down to a short, pleasant one. Maybe it’s just the joy of making pretty pictures and beautiful content appear online like magic. Whatever the reason behind it, I’m oddly, geekily, passionately fond of managing the pixels and points of digital assets.
One of my most satisfactory projects was at Skirt! Magazine in Charleston, South Carolina. I’d been hired as their “webmistress” which was…a dubious title to say the least…and I initially had the simple mandate of publishing their single-market print edition to the Web. You might think “Oh, that’s no big deal,” right? But this was at a time when Adobe didn’t have a Creative Suite and it was every woman for herself with regard to print tools. In this case, I had to work with an old version of Quark, photo assets that were sized for print (e.g. HUGE) and a proprietary web publishing platform that was designed for newspapers, not large-format fashion magazines.
Challenge? Oh you bet.
I managed to get that process down from three weeks to one week for the single Charleston issue, just in time for the company to add three more local publication markets to their roster. But because of the process streamlining I’d already developed, this ended up being far easier than we initially thought it would be. So much so that we were able to add two more markets and still produce all six locations on the Web in just one week. It was extremely satisfying for the entire team to see their hard work in print show up so quickly on the Internet and something I look back on fondly to this day.
When I moved to Hearst Digital Media and started working with House Beautiful Magazine as the senior web editor, I was tasked with taking their monthly magazine content from print-to-digital, a process that involved 30-50 articles, 200-300 print-quality images, a proprietary CMS and about two weeks of my time from start to finish, not to mention the work that the print editors and photographers had to engage in just to get the assets through the existing process. It seemed pretty inefficient to me, and, truth be told, I would much rather have been spending my free time going to design show houses and Broadway shows. So I worked with a team of back-end developers to build an automatic photo and article metadata mapping process. What we ultimately devised took my two week process and got it down to two days total. We extended the process to other sites in the Hearst family and managed to decrease time-to-live by over 60%, for some sites over 75%.
More recently, as part of the HGTV site redesign, I directed the creation and management of a new DAM built specifically for the vast library of HGTV.com professional designer photos. We had to account for over 60 data points that needed to be associated with each asset, in order to power other content types throughout the site(s). Prior to the creation of this DAM, the editors had no way to add important data to their images or dynamically create content using data alone. Now bulk groupings of images can be easily added to the DAM and given advanced metadata either individually or in bulk. We made it possible for our entire library of images to be managed by a core group of editors who, by the simple task of publishing an asset, can power dynamic content throughout the entire HGTV site family.
There’s something richly satisfying about adding simple data to an image that allows it to found or displayed pretty much anywhere with the push of a button.
Or is that not satisfying to anyone else but me? I’m alone on this?
I can live with that.