Designing a CMS image library for real people: 16 user stories



Screen shot 2016 06 06 at 15.09.15

At Neoteric Design, we developed a multichannel Content Management System (CMS) that we customize for our clients. It is multichannel, because it publishes not only to web pages, but also to mobile apps, content distribution networks, PDFs, eBooks, and more, all from a single source. 

Working with images is critical for any publication. As we focus on publishing to different channels and platforms, we’ve needed to rethink how the typical CMS image library works. Most Digital Asset Managers (DAMs) approach image management from a technical perspective of what can be done: a database of metadata, yeah; a thumbnail view of all the images, got it; a disconnection between the library and its actual use in a publication, yeah, unfortunately, sorry about that.  

In rethinking how image libraries should work for authors, producers, designers, or editors, we talked with our own clients about challenges they face and how they use image management software. We’ve realized an image asset goes through different phases of concerns when it’s handled in a publication: it’s added to the image library (where it is written up, tagged, and categorized); researched by producers (who are seeking the perfect image for a story); produced by an editor (where it might be cropped or scaled as needed), and audited later for appropriate use, revision, or deletion from the system.  

Here are 16 user stories (well, maybe job stories)  that fit the needs our clients face. We think they will guide the design and development of CMS image library system that’s going to be productive, and a real pleasure to use. 

Add images to the library

  • When I’m uploading images to the library, I want to do it all at once, so I don’t have to deal with the file picker and individual files if I don’t want to. 
  • When I’m uploading images to the library, I want to put them in a named collection, so I can easily edit the set later and tell my editors which collection to use. 
  • When I’m editing information about images, I want to tag them all at once, so I don’t have to handle each image individually. 
  • When I’m finished editing information about images, I want to let editors know they are ready for use in publications. 

Research images in the library

  • When I’m preparing an article to be published, I want to search over the image library, so I can find an appropriate image to use. 
  • When I’m preparing an article to be published, I want to search the image library for photos of ‘Milton Friedman,’ so I can choose a different image. 
  • When I’m preparing an article to be published, I want to see if this image is overused, so I can decide if we need new artwork or not. 
  • When I’m preparing an article to be published, I want to view the parent image of a found cropped image, so I can re-crop from the original source. 

Produce images from the library

  • When I’m editing an article, I want to quickly and easily crop this image for use in the header, so I can stay focused on the content. 
  • When I’m creating an article, I want the image library to handle image cropping aspect ratios for me, so I can stay focused on the content and not worry about pixel dimensions or switch to Photoshop. 
  • When I’m editing an article, I do not want to crop an image too tightly, so that it looks bad on desktop or retina screens. The image library should prevent me from over cropping. 
  • When I’m editing an article, I want to specify if this image should be used for social media shares via the open graph, so that I can better control the look of this article when its published in different networks. 

Audit images in the library

  • When I’m reviewing the image library, I want to see what images are not in use in any publication, so I can remove them or choose them for a new publication. 
  • When I’m viewing a set of unused images, I want to delete them all at once, so I don’t have to handle them individually. 
  • When I’m auditing an image, I’d like to see all the places that it has been used, so I can review them and insure they are a good fit. 
  • When I’m working with a set of images, I want to add and remove tags all at once, so I don’t have to handle them individually. 

What’s your dream asset management system? 

What kind of challenges do you face in your organization? Do you think topics like rights management or access control belong in the CMS, or in a organization DAM? Have a workflow that’s been dreamy for you? Drop us a line and let us know what your experiences have been, good or bad.