When designing the structure of your system there is unfortunately no silver bullet. Every implementation is unique and it's always best to customise the setup to your specific needs as this will help to optimise the user experience.
It is worth considering your users first - who are the key users? What assets do they use the most? What search terms are likely to be most important to them? By considering the perspective of your users throughout the configuration then it will help to ensure the end result is functional and easy-to-use.
Adding structure to Dash
The easier it is for your users to find the assets they are looking for, the more effective your system will be. Many users start by selecting one of the folders on the homepage before selecting the relevant sub-folder or adding other filters to narrow down the displayed assets.
Having an effective structure with descriptive Folder names is important as this text is also used during search queries - this means that if, for example, your asset is already in a Folder called "Stock photography" then you don't need a separate field that specifies whether the image is owner or stock as this would be duplicated information. Reducing this duplication makes the system much easier for people uploading assets to your system as the process will be much faster and less frustrating.
Determining your Folder structure
Folders are particularly important as they form the basic structure to store your assets - every asset that is uploaded to your system must be placed in at least one Folder.
In the case of a University, two of the most important bits of information about an asset could be the Location of the file (e.g. campus, city, country) and the Faculty that the asset relates to. Either of these could make for a suitable start to your Folder structure, depending on which is a more important distinction for your users. In some cases it may be more suitable to browse into a specific location and then narrow down to a specific faculty; in other scenarios it may be more useful to view all of the files relating to a faculty as the first option, and then add a location filter if relevant.
Neither of these solutions are inherently better, it just depends which solution is a better fit for your organisation. Equally, you could choose to have one of these pieces of information as the Folders that appear on the homepage, and have the second piece of information in a separate field.
In some cases, depending on the level of granularity, you may with you use two different Folder structures in order to capture more information. For example, 'Location' could have a hierarchy that includes Continent, Country, Region, etc.
Customising your Fields
Fields control the different fields available for storing information (metadata) about your assets. Whilst it is possible to have fairly generic terms such as 'Description' and 'Keywords', it is often useful to be more specific (i.e. 'Country', 'Photographer') as it will prompt your users to enter certain information in a more consistent manner - especially if you set the field to be a defined dropdown list, for example.
When first configuring Dash you will discover that there are some fields that are already created in the system as a baseline. You can delete some if they are not needed, or alternatively, they can be hidden from displaying in your Filters section.
It is possible to create new fields in order to ensure you are storing all of the relevant information about your assets in a way that is easy to maintain.
In the case of the University example above, some possible new fields could be:
Faculty / Filetype (assuming not Folders)
Photographer (who took the image?)
Source (where is the asset from?)
Information about your images that is more descriptive could then be captured in the other fields as tags such as:
Number of people
A blend of Folders/Sub-Folders and fields will help to ensure your system is easy to use during both upload and download processes, plus your assets will be much easier to find through browsing or searching.
How much of this do I need to get right on day one?
Dash is designed to allow you to rapidly start using your assets as they're uploaded without needing to go through the full tagging process. By ensuring you have fields set up for the 'Intelligence' functions of Dash, you can quickly enable auto-tagging based on content, and also character/word recognition in your images. These can help to give your users the ability to find assets in lieu of having a full suite of metadata. We would recommend that you spend some time trying to make sure you have your taxonomy built early in your project so you don't need to work through a large number of assets to add information you could've included during the upload process, but we appreciate sometimes it's better to get started with the application and work through these tasks in parallel.
The university example mentioned above is detailed more extensively in a standalone document which you can access through Google Sheets.
Configuring your Folders and fields are a great way to start making sure you have an effective DAM, but there are other areas you will also want to consider. A sensible next step would be to consider which of these you want displayed as Filters in order to make the search function for your users both powerful and intuitive.
It's important to ensure the system is built with your users in mind, as the only way to ensure a DAM implementation is successful is ensuring that it is an enjoyable and useful experience for your users. Regular consultation with your users during the configuration stage (and even when the system has gone live) is a great way to ensure the decisions you make are beneficial for all.
Our years of experience in configuring the software can also be a useful resource, so if you'd like any more advice or assistance with this, please get in touch so we can arrange a conversation.