Picture This

the challenge

A company specializing in "nature-inspired merchandise" had built up a collection of thousands of images, which they used on their website, in brochures and ads, and for product design.

The Creative Services Director at the company was tasked with managing these images, relying on a file server to store them, multiple spreadsheets to track information about the images, and email to share info about these resources even amongst her own team.

As the company's product lines and marketing efforts grew, organizing digital assets became a full-time task for the Director, who would rather have spent less time in administrative mode, and more time actually being creative.

That's when she put the call out to Beezwax for help.

the beezwax solution

Beezwax created a powerful, custom-built application that stores digital assets, including tens of thousands of photos and other image files. FileMaker's features for relational data sharing, and built-in image handling meant that we could prototype a digital asset management database in a few days, not weeks. The working prototype showed a live, proof-of-concept system to all potential users, and made the company's initial investment in FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Server a no-brainer.

Next, the Creative Services Director and her team worked closely with Beezwax to architect a database system that expanded the use of their digital content. The system supports a dozen core users, plus several dozen more casual consumers of the image data. Not only does the database manage digital assets, but it can store related data such as the location of physical materials like photos, proofs, and posters.

The company's project team worked closely with Beezwax to define, design, develop, test and deploy their database on FileMaker Server, including several rounds of refinements, and regular sessions of User Experience testing. Our own experience launching new database systems meant we prepared the database to meet their IT department's security requirements for user authentication and VPN access.

UI was especially important to the Creative Services Department staff, many of whom are photographers, artists and designers, by trade or...by nature:

The database highlights our digital content. It's inspiring to everyone who makes use of it. Beezwax helped us decide to emphasize this, and they built a very smooth UI.

the success story

The new system has enabled the outdoor products company to accomplish more than they ever imagined with their digital assets. The Creative Services Director spends far less time as de facto "content administrator" and more time collaborating with her team on creative projects.

After a second phase of development, the Image Management Database is now also used heavily by the Product Development department. Concept drawings, wireframes, and prototype photos are all stored in the database. The company's product development lifecycle has sped up, so that design iterations now happen in a matter of days, not weeks.

Integrating the FileMaker database with a SQL backend and an e-commerce provider's Web API enabled the company to distribute their data for many different purposes: web-based product orders from distributors, customized product requests from retailers, and image uploads for the company's online catalogs. The company's PR and marketing department are able to quickly pull product images from the database to create content for press kits, advertising and even social media campaigns.

what's next

The next planned phases of development include a database to handle product manufacturing data, such as Bills of Materials for orders from wholesalers. Also, there will be a mobile iPad interface to the database that can be used to track inventory at the company's warehouses in California and Florida, and to audit manufacturing samples while visiting their suppliers' manufacturing plants in Asia.