Our Work

Sorting Out Digital Assets With Taxonomy & Metadata


Our users really like our new system, and I think Dovecot has a lot to do with that.

Miles RohanDirector of DAM at Nickelodeon

Even cartoon characters need a little structure.

When we met the folks on the knowledge and digital asset management team at Nickelodeon, they were in the midst of a big project to replace their DAM system. One of the features of this upgrade was a shiny new faceted browsing interface that promised to improve the marketing team’s ability to find assets quickly and with more precision.

644651_440910725944521_839344416_nNeed a picture of SpongeBob, playing tennis, facing left, in full color to put on a backpack? That should be no problem.

But that kind of structure doesn’t just magically emerge from a new DAM – it had to be assembled from all the masses of data Nickelodeon had in its ecosystem about characters, episodes, art types, etc. And we only had a few short weeks to build out a taxonomy and metadata structure if we didn’t want to delay implementation.

So we hiked up our squarepants and got to work.


Our approach:

Even with a time limit, it’s still critical to get stakeholder input when building out a new navigation or search interface. We wanted the system to be intuitive, but we also wanted the team to be involved in the design and feel it had been crafted to fit their purposes.

After collecting requirements and rows and rows (and rows) of data, we got down to building a full metadata schema and taxonomy for the DAM. Understanding how the DAM system worked with metadata was crucial in building a structure that would meet all of Nickelodeon’s needs.

For example, we had to cover all the elements needed to control the very detailed permissions model, allowing restriction of views by property, asset type, etc. We also had to understand the functions and limitations of the faceted search mechanism so we could make it flow elegantly.

Once the structure was done, the last piece was to create a cross-mapping between the old metadata structure and values and the new one that could be used in a retagging script. This would avoid having to manually tag the thousands of assets that would soon be migrated over to the new system.

The reveal:

We worked with Nickelodeon to rein in an enormous amount of information which had accumulated over 12 years and suffered from clutter, duplication and lots of band-aids from temporary fixes. The end result was an intuitive, easy to navigate taxonomy and browsing interface. The new taxonomy helps staff and partners zero in on smaller subsets of artwork – by asset type, by character, by property, by subject, etc. – and find things more quickly.

Nickelodeon also embarked on a document management project in conjunction with the DAM launch. This was new territory for them, and no real document organization existed anywhere in the company. They are now using the new taxonomy to organize business documents alongside assets and this has really improved findability.

Six months after our work wrapped up, the DAM team is still tickled about how flexible and scalable the new information architecture is – which is great because the types of content they deal with change all the time. As Miles Rohan, Director of DAM at Nickelodeon, put so nicely, “we feel Dovecot gave us tools and educated us on how to effectively and sensibly change our IA when we need to.”

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