About being sensible

Missives from Hothouse Design

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Filling systems are dead, tagging rules!

Deirdre Wilson – Tuesday, March 22, 2016   


If enough people do stuff the same inefficient way for long enough someone else will solve the problem that those people are are avoiding. We all know someone who has one folder on their computer called My Files and everything is dumped into that folder. Ghastly way to store and try to find anything.

But, it may be that the chuck it all in one box approach has a solution - tags. Instead of working out a naming protocol for documents and creating a filing hierarchy, simply tag documents and images with words that are the same as the ones you would use to look up that file. Then search by that words and voila, anything with that tag on it appears.

Seem familiar? Should do, that's how search engines work, basically. It's how you find books in online book stores, or socks in an online sock shop. Tagging, is then, one of the keys to improved productivity.

Productivity is the flavour of the month, year and decade. There are loads of productivity tools around at the moment and heaps of people are writing about getting organised - here's a great post about getting organised from Noah Kogan at OkDork. Forget the age of aquarius, at the moment the push is on the get stuff done.

I bang on a bit about getting your filing system right because you have to be able to find stuff later on. More importantly, other people need to be able to find the stuff that you have filed. Not surprisingly then, one of our favourite tools is a digital asset management system, DAM that is - an image library, in oversimplified terms.

The beauty of a DAM is that it is designed to handle images (digital assets). Chuck images in a folder on your hard drive and you won't get anywhere near the benefits of using a DAM. A good DAM helps with cool stuff like letting you choose the size of the image you want to download and resize it for you on the fly. You can share images with people outside your org and they can download the size that is right for them. But the big winner when using a DAM is this: images or any files in the DAM can be tagged with keywords.

Tagging (not the spray can kind) is really gaining traction as a way to identify stuff and as a mechanism for finding it again. If you tag with correctly spelt tags then finding stuff becomes easy - so easy that you don't need a filing system if you are really good at tagging. But I am for one minute suggesting that you abandon having a filing system? No, that would be anarchy.

Once you develop the tagging habit you will want to tag everything - it makes SO much difference to the ease with which you find stuff.

One of our clients has found that the DAM we set up for them has: 

  • improved communication in the business 
  • allowed people to download and upload to their heart's content 
  • enabled people to function independently because they can access and share the assets as they need, rather than asking permission and then getting someone clever to do it for them.

That is creating solid ground for people to work from.

Further Reading

Same, same but different, Store (or tag) your passwords methodically and save on headaches... 
- The one step program for getting organised, being smarter and better protected

This post is by Deirdre Wilson, Director of Hothouse Design – Australia's most sensible information design company.
Deirdre applies her background in industrial design and design management to the complex and wondrous projects undertaken by Hothouse Design.

Basics. Know what they are. Get them right. Repeat.

About being sensible.

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