The Importance of Maintaining Digital Assets

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I recently started working at a new company full time. As I began the new job I, of course, had to go through digital assets the company had in order to begin working on their social networking sites, websites and other digital areas. The companies digital assets were a mess. Not only were things all over the place in numerous folders and on various computers, they were missing tons of originals even. This is not the first time I have found a company with poor digital management. I also encountered the same problem with my work at a company. *I don’t want to point fingers at companies I have worked at or are working for, hence me leaving the names out. It is often not the companies fault entirely, mostly it is the people they hire to do the work for them. As a result of poorly managed assets I am currently taken more than 3 months to launch a site because I must hunt down images I need, in addition, once I have hunted these images I am finding there are no originals, which means I am left designing a website with images as small as 150px by 150px. While that size was fine 10 years ago it isn’t in today’s technological world. We now have retina displays, zoom in and out and so much more, that our images must be far better than they had to be in the past. Some of you are shaking your head saying I do why are you writing this? I am writing this because you might but I have seen far too many who don’t.

What are Digital Assets?
So what exactly are digital assets? Digital assets are anything the company uses to relay their personal brand, persona, or look of their company. This can include anything from logos, advertisements, videos, as well as product images. Basically, any picture or document that the company uses on the web or social networking sites, but it can also include print items as well. These assets are important to any organization and/or business. It is vital to your business to make sure that your digital assets are organized and reachable by the staff that needs to use them on a daily basis. This is the all-important content that the search engines are begging web owners to have and post!

How should your assets be managed or organized?
How should your assets be managed or organized? I personally like organization and want it to not only be easy to find but also to make sense to those who may be using the files. Imagine you own a widget company. Your company makes all kinds of widgets in different colors, sizes and for different purposes. Each widget needs its’ own marketing materials and images. How are you going to organize all this so that your social networking people can find the images for the networks, your graphic artist can make brochures, or so your salesman can find assets to sell your widgets?

The best way I have found is to use your website navigation as a jumping off point to your organization process. This, of course, assumes you have a good navigation system on your site.

folder-hierarchy

As you can see from the image above we have the company name folder this houses all digital assets for the company. The next in line is a website named folder, some companies (most I know) have more than one website so each website should have its own folder. Then inside the website folder, you have 3 folders.

  • Products
  • Logos
  • Print

This allows for print images used in regards to anything that site carries or uses to be in the correct website area but separate from images that go on the web. This is important because often print images are large and are not used on the web due to their size. These should be made into web assets to go onto the web. Logos are always separate because you have a handy place to keep them and then when making other assets you can go into that folder and find a logo that fits into whatever project you’re working on. Then the products of the website (assuming it is products on the site). If not then name the folder images or something else that makes sense for your site.

Under Products each product category gets a folder then inside that is the name of the product. In this case, we have widgets and thingamabobs. Inside our widgets and thingamabobs is another folder named Promo-ads. This folder holds any image ads you ran on that product inside of a folder with the name of the promotion and the date. This allows for finding your ads easily so that can be repeated or copied in some way.

This system does require a lot of folders and means a lot of navigating but it also is very organized and easy to follow should someone else other than yourself come to find a digital asset.

Other Rules for Digital Assets

  • Never ever ever destroy an original image! This should be a given but as in my introduction to this article I guess some people do not know this.
  • Always save a copy of your .PSD file from Photoshop (or whatever photo-editing program you use).
  • Make your images ready for their medium. If it is for print use print settings. If it is going on the web make it web settings.
  • Logos are gold assets treat them as such. Logos should have their own place and be in different formats and sizes so they can fit your project needs.
  • Always think of the company and protect their assets.
  • Always think of the person that may come after you leave the company, make sure they can easily find the assets they need.

My system may not work entirely for your company or business but it does give you a base to work with that can help you maintain, organize, and protect your digital assets. Good Luck!