Make your image collection earn its keep… Then you can retire to the beach!

April 5, 2017 mallindine

Make your image collection earn its keep… Then you can retire to the beach!

We’ve all dreamt of the scenario – we sit on the beach while the computer does all the work. Coming back to earth, there are a few reasons to delay the sun bathing and get on with making your image collection earn its keep.  Having got your images online, it’s easy to run out of steam (and resources) at the critical point where you need make the collection visible.

Can your customers find the killer image? You may have loads of great image content, but how do people know what you’ve got? It’s fine to present a single search box as a large general library of ‘everything’, but specialist collections need to do more to lead their audience to the pictures.

Is your website Harvey Nics or Primark? Treat the home page as your shop window, and show the variety of subjects and themes you cover. You may have a collection of historical images, but how can anyone know about that collection of shoes, or those wonderful images of flowerpots? You need to get under the skin of your collection and display categories and themes, as well as alerting visitors to new and interesting images. That means keeping your interface fresh, and staying abreast of trends.

Be appealing! It also means putting energy into creating an interface that people will want to use. Too many collections treat the online site as simply a search engine. Users will yawn if faced with a boring text-heavy search interface and go somewhere else where the images are displayed more imaginatively.

Put your best foot forward. We all respond to good packaging, and it’s no different for image sites. There’s a lot of competition out there and attention spans are short. Constant curation is needed to bring your best and most interesting images to the eyes of potential users. Think about what makes your image site different and make sure it’s there for visitors to see.

Analysis is key. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but without words images are hidden from view. You need to understand your users and stay in touch with what they’re looking for. Your DAM system should help by presenting search reports. A failed search can indicate a missing keyword, or perhaps that a new category of images needs to be added to your collection.

Don’t forget that images will continue to flow into your library and there is always work to be done that no machine can yet manage; selecting the images that will bring most value to your collection.

And finally, the M word. Marketing can mean many things, and investment there can make all the difference to the sustainability of your collection. Don’t leave that line out of your budget!

Adding value to images means that the work you do upfront – selecting, cataloguing, keywording, organising, displaying – saves your customers time and effort and allows them to see the treasures of your collection. Your work – done once and used many times- is ongoing. The beach is a long way away.

Sarah Saunders

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