Designing a User-driven DAM Experience, Part 3

By: Kara Van Malssen
April 15, 2021

Kara Van Malssen

Kara Van Malssen is Partner and Managing Director for Consulting at AVP.  Kara works with clients to bridge the technical, human, and business aspects of projects. Kara has supported numerous organizations with DAM selection and implementation, metadata modeling and schema development, and taxonomy development, and user experience design efforts.

This series shares exercises that offer a way to gain insight into how your users’ are likely to browse, search, discover, interpret, and use information assets. Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2


In exercise 1 we used the card sorting method to understand how users see your world. Exercise 2 examined how users search and browse.

This final approach gets to the heart of the metadata question by asking users: once you find an asset, what do you need to know about it in order to use it effectively?

This can be learned pretty easily: just ask.

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1. Identify a group of study participants that target your different user groups (a few per group). Find a minimum of 5 participants, up to 12 or so.

2. Show participants an asset. Similar to the previous exercise, you need to show them the actual image, video, illustration, etc.

3. Ask participants to imagine they found this asset. What information do they need to know about it in order to use it effectively in their work? Ask them to write as many ideas as they can think of in about a 5 minute period. Use sticky notes and capture one idea per note.

4. Repeat this for each participant.

5. Synthesize the results and identify patterns.

This exercise works well as a 1:1 exercise, as well as in small groups of 3-4 people. Cross-functional groups are often best because each participant will have different things that are important to them, and their suggestions may prompt ideas for each other.


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By understanding users’ mental model of our assets, how they might search and browse, and what they need to know in order to use assets effectively, we can design asset management solutions that truly serve users’ needs. Use these techniques to discover ways to improve user engagement with your system, so that your users will say, “Yes, we have a DAM. It’s great! I can find everything I need.”