How to Build a Digital Asset Management Taxonomy

Mrignayni Pandey

Content strategist, and copywriter.
February 2, 2023

Table of Content

Categorizing and organizing your digital assets can help in retrieving and better collaboration. Here, learn how to build a digital asset management taxonomy to gain maximum efficiency.

A digital asset management (DAM) system requires significant effort to implement and manage.

It includes organizing product images, sell sheets, videos, branded graphics, and other assets and integrating your DAM platform with other technologies. 

So, getting the most out of your DAM solution necessitates maintenance and optimization, which includes developing an easy-to-navigate and evolving taxonomy.

Here’s everything you need to know about DAM taxonomy and how to create one that makes it easier to find your digital assets.

What is digital asset management taxonomy?

One of the common goals of using a DAM system is to make content easier to find and access for everyone. 

While some organizations will use the metadata-powered search bar, others prefer category navigation. If you’re using the latter, taxonomy will greatly benefit you.

Digital asset taxonomy is a classification scheme used to categorize and organize digital assets. It contains descriptive vocabulary and a consistent naming system to describe, tag, organize, and find assets quickly. 

Your taxonomy will be specific to your brand and content requirements. You can make your top-level (parent) categories business units or asset types. 

If this is your first DAM platform, you might want to consider mirroring an existing folder structure to aid user adoption. It really depends on how and who uses your DAM system.

Here’s an example of what a DAM taxonomy might look like for an eCommerce website:

Image Source: Piwik Pro

Note: It's crucial to know the difference between taxonomy and metadata. The former refers to all of the data stored on an asset, whereas the latter refers to the categories used to locate those assets.

Why is DAM taxonomy important?

What if someone is unsure which asset they require? An asset taxonomy makes it simple for users to discover assets they may not even be aware of. 

Suppose a marketer needs a photo for a presentation but doesn’t have a specific image in mind. Providing the option to discover new assets through categories and filterable metadata helps them discover assets that were previously unknown to them.

DAM taxonomy best practices

You most likely already have some ideas for how to structure your taxonomy. You can pressure test them with a few best practices to ensure you have the right framework to move forward.

Talk to your users

Everyone navigates files and looks for assets in a different way. That’s why it is critical to solicit feedback from those who use your DAM site the most. 

Take the time to learn how your users currently locate their digital assets and answer the following questions:

  • Where do the assets that they use reside? 
  • Do they search or browse existing categories? 
  • What taxonomy would they prefer?

Initially, knowing which questions to ask to get the answers you need can be difficult, but making time for follow-up conversations will be extremely beneficial. 

If you have no idea where to start, you can create a survey about your current and future taxonomies. Use it to find out how easy it is to find things, the main issues, and the features they wish the existing system had. 

You might get confirmation that your current taxonomy only needs minor tweaks, or you might discover an entirely new way to organize your assets.

Audit existing digital assets

Whether you’re changing the taxonomy structure on your current site or starting from scratch, you’ll want to audit your assets, so you know what you’re dealing with. If you’re creating a new site, gather your assets based on your site’s short- and long-term goals. 

This will enable you to create a picture of your taxonomy at launch and what you may need to consider in the future. 

Your approach will be slightly different if you already have a platform in place. Instead of looking at a completely new taxonomy, you’ll start by conducting an audit of your site’s existing taxonomy structure. 

This will help you identify what isn’t being used or may not currently fall into a category. You can also begin to see the taxonomy possibilities once you have an overview of all your new and existing assets and how they are being used.

Establish file naming conventions

Now that you've audited your taxonomy, it's time to tweak it or create a taxonomy structure that suits you. 

Determine which categories remain at the top level (parent) and which are moved down one level (child). Here are a few examples of how that might look:

Corporate logos > Brand identity

Product launch images > Marketing campaigns

Merchandising > Product videos

Once you get started, you’ll probably notice patterns in your assets and the natural categories in which they reside. As these categories take shape, now is a good time to consider file naming conventions. 

Perhaps your file name corresponds to your taxonomy, or you use file names to highlight other important information about your assets.

Establishing file conventions and connecting your categories can also aid in metadata mapping and make metadata tagging easier, faster, and possibly automated. 

Thinking about taxonomy, file names, and metadata all at once in this manner can be especially beneficial when it comes time to improve your system’s maturity through automation and integrations.

Wrapping Up

Your DAM taxonomy has a significant impact on the findability and discoverability of your assets, which is why it’s critical to provide a taxonomy structure that’s simple, clear, and tailored to your users. To get started, use these DAM taxonomy best practices to help you create and launch your next DAM site structure.

These tips are a great starting point if you’re implementing your first DAM solution, migrating from another system, or changing your current structure.

About Artwork Flow

Artwork Flow is an end-to-end project management tool that manages your entire workflow and simplifies creative collaboration and asset management. 

It helps you create templates, workflows, and checklists to collaborate with team members and go to market on time. 

For more information on how Artwork Flow can help, check out the case studies, or contact us right away for a free demo or free trial.

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