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Enhancing customer experience through effective image management: Part One - Setting the scene

Images are essential to the success of your online business. Good visual content does not just increase online sales, but also enhances user engagement, improves the customer experience and encourages retention. As a result, images account for 1.5MB per web page visit - or more than 60% of the bytes per webpage. Where images were just a 'nice to have' part of the web 10 years ago, they are now critical to your brand's online impact -- regardless of your industry.

But images can also be difficult to manage. Discovery, content creation and licensing of images have to be paid for. The displaying of large, high resolution images to a customer using a smartphone can be very slow, leading to that customer abandoning your site and impacting your revenue. A malicious image manipulated in a transformation workflow can create backdoor security vulnerabilities which can cause reputation damage. Images can also negatively impact your backup and disaster recovery strategy. So, it's important to balance the impact between the web designer's aspirations, the customer's expectations, the concerns of security, legal & finance's guidance and your IT operations responsibilities.

A good image management strategy requires a multi-disciplined approach to reduce risk and maximise opportunity. There are five key strategies to consider:

  • Creative teams need Storage and discoverability
  • Customers expect Mobile engagement
  • Security requires Secure image transformation
  • Operations manage the Disaster-Recovery and Business-Continuity plan
  • Marketing & Finance want an SEO and Bot strategy

When it comes to storage of images, every online business has an implicit strategy. It can be as simple as a common file store where images are edited and saved. Or as complicated as a fully featured digital-asset-management solution that tracks all videos, images and derivative content, utilises workflows, approvals and tagging. For an eCommerce site, the key is to make sure products have an associated image set with the best possible quality. For publishers there may be legal audits that need to be approved before publishing to the web. Each business has different requirements for storage and discoverability.

The goal of the storage strategy is to reduce duplication and ensure employees' workflows are efficient. Here are some good guidelines for selecting and developing your storage and discoverability strategy for images:

Small - choose a central location for original photography or artwork, and for derivative and work-in -progress content. Make sure the naming convention associates the image with the product or use case.

Medium - Use version control for work-in-progress and tagging and searching of images and assets. It's also helpful to have a usage association track where images are used and to detect orphans

Large - Track costs for licensed or third-party sourced images. Institute workflow and approval gating, audit controls, and define policies and requirements for derivative content

The completeness of your image storage solution will be based on business requirements. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to purchase a complex digital asset manager. It can be as straightforward as a set of checklists and procedures.

In the next blog I'll look at the importance of managing images on smartphones and mobiles and secure image transformations.   

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