When designing the structure and taxonomy of your Asset Bank, unfortunately, there is no silver bullet - every implementation is unique and there is always customisations you can make to optimise the experience for your users.
There are a number of underlying principles that can guide you towards an effective solution, and it is also worth considering what other organisations are doing - whilst it is unlikely to be an exact match for your system, it can help you to think about the different options available to you.
Structuring your Asset Bank
One of the most important things in your Asset Bank is, quite simply, your assets! The easier it is for your users to find the assets they are looking for, the more effective your system will be. The most common way that users will find assets is to browse through your Folder hierarchy, navigating the sub-folders to find the area they are looking for. Often, even if using search options, selecting the relevant folders is a key way of narrowing down your search results in order to find the correct asset.
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 Attribute 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: gone are the days of re-keying information in multiple areas!
Determining your Folder structure
Simply put, the most common way of deciding your Folder structure is to consider what your users will find most useful to "browse" through in order to find assets they are looking for.
In the case of a University, often the two most important bits of information about an asset are the asset type (e.g. Photograph, Document) 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 "Photograpy" 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 and then the type of file would be a secondary lens. It is possible to use both of these as part of your navigation by using Sub-Folders or Filters, as shown in the examples below:
Faculties as top-level Folders, filetypes as sub-folders
Filetypes as top-level folders, faculties as sub-folders
Neither of these solutions are inherently better, it just depends which solution is a better fit for your organisation. The downside of both of these is that the sub-folders will result in your assets being split across the system, meaning that it would be difficult to find 'all' Documents (in the case of the first example).
This potential issue demonstrates why your Attributes are equally important to your Folder structure, and the issues with considering them independently.
Customising your Attributes
When first configuring an Asset Bank you will discover that there is a range of different Attributes that are already created in the system as a baseline. The majority of these can be deleted if they are not needed, or alternatively, they can be hidden from sight in the case of attributes such as 'ID' or 'Size'.
It is possible to create new Attributes 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 Attributes could be:
Information about your images that is more descriptive could then be captured in the Keywords attribute using a hierarchy, such as:
A blend of Folders/Sub-Folders, Attributes, plus an effective Keyword hierarchy 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.
Asset Bank's default attributes
Controlling user access
The functionality and assets that are available to a user is based on the Groups that they are placed by the system administrator. The different levels of access that a group will have is controlled on a folder-by-folder basis. It is also possible to state whether users will need approval to perform certain actions (e.g. downloading) or whether they can freely do so.
If you need to control permissions on an asset-by-asset basis then this can be achieved by either using file-based permissions, or by using Attribute Exclusions which enables you to hide assets depending on the metadata of the asset. For example, if the default attribute "Active Status" is set to "Expired", then the asset will not be visible to your users.
There is also the option to control the visibility of your attributes as well as which filters and download options are available to your users. These are important options that allow you to greater customise the experience of your users.
The university example mentioned above is detailed more extensively in a standalone document which you can access through Google Sheets or as an Excel spreadsheet download. If you'd like any more advice or assistance with this, please get in touch so we can arrange a conversation.