Metadata Best Practices 101
Metadata is your BFF. It protects your precious assets from being lost in an endless sea of randomly named file folders. It helps your clients easily find your work so that they keep giving you wheelbarrows full of money. And it ensures that your hard-working and awesome creative types spend their days focusing on artistic perfection instead of digging around for lost or missing assets. You need metadata…unless you enjoy wasting time, energy, and resources. And being constantly surrounded by frustrated, unhappy people.
Metadata is like a roadmap for your workflow. It allows users to understand what the asset is, how it was made, who made it, and what it’s for. And it doesn’t just help you get things done in real time—it also keeps your ever-expanding collection of assets logically organized for future usage. Employees come and go, projects get put on-hold and then come back to life again, computer systems are upgraded, and files get moved around. The only constant is change. Good metadata is the best way to keep things consistent and easy to navigate regardless of ongoing organizational or structural shifts.
Metadata is everywhere
Metadata is generated from the moment you open a document in Photoshop or capture an image with your digital camera. Photoshop metadata can refer to details like creation date, page size, color mode, and resolution. Camera metadata (when you capture an image) includes things like creation date, whether or not a flash was used, aperture, and exposure settings.
With the explosion of digital assets and media over the past decade, companies are facing the increasingly difficult challenge of keeping their asset collections in some form of logical order. An efficient metadata scheme helps businesses work efficiently enough to keep up with this deluge of new information.
Define your metadata scheme
A metadata scheme is the framework that helps you (and your users) organize and interpret information. A standard list of fields would include information like date, author, name, and subject. Consider your audience when creating this taxonomy—utilize existing folder names and rely on terminology that’s already familiar to your industry. A DAM system is only as effective as the metadata you put into it—using DAM without a smart metadata scheme is “like throwing papers in an unmarked box.”
Content + metadata = “smart assets”
Adding solid metadata to your assets makes them more searchable and accessible. But in doing so, it also makes the assets themselves more valuable. Industry experts estimate that brand managers spend between 35-40% of their time searching for assets. With the proper metadata, the assets stop hiding and announce their presence readily. Imagine trying to find a book in the library without a card catalog or any kind of naming system in place. That’s what your repository looks like without good metadata. Stop wasting time and let your “smart” assets do the searching for you.
Metadata is “a love note to the future you”
This wonderful (and anonymous) quote perfectly sums up the value of metadata. Do Future You a favor and implement a DAM system now so that your increasingly spotty memory doesn’t translate to lost or missing assets down the road. Fallible humans might have trouble remembering log-in passwords and wedding anniversaries but metadata never forgets.