Ten Steps to Improving DAM User Adoption

This feature article was written by DAM News editor, Russell McVeigh and published on 18th July 2023.

Poor user adoption is one of the key reasons that many Digital Asset Management implementations fail.  Aside from the missed opportunity of streamlining your digital asset lifecycle workflows, an under-utilised DAM system can have a significant impact on your bottom line by failing to realise any potential return on investment (ROI).

User adoption is so difficult in part because it involves changing the mindset of all the staff and other stakeholders. It requires many different skills: marketing and communications, education/training, human resources and a certain amount of technological understanding as well.”  [Read More]

Ralph Windsor, The Next Steps of DAM Consciousness

Improving user adoption of Digital Asset Management software involves implementing various strategies to encourage users to embrace the system.  In this article we present ten methods to help you achieve just that.

1. User-Centric Design: Ensure that the DAM software is intuitive, user-friendly, and tailored to the specific needs of the users. Conducting user research and gathering feedback will help you to understand their pain points and preferences. Once you have identified a checklist of issues, concerns and bottlenecks, take steps to incorporate their suggestions to enhance the user interface, workflows and overall user experience. In ‘Resolving THE DAM UX Paradox‘, consultant Ralph Windsor examines the challenges of User Experience (UX) within DAM and the importance of a user-centric approach:

While modern DAM systems might be good for light-medium use, many are unsatisfactory for the kind of heavy duty volume work that production staff require. The use of a slower web based interface does not help with this situation as even with fast connections and innovations like AJAX etc., responsiveness is still not as sharp as a desktop app. I think that will be a problem that will get solved externally to the DAM industry over time, but a bigger issue is that not enough attention is being devoted towards the needs of the users who will supply most of the assets that users will want to download.

The current UX trends in DAM threaten to constrain the supply of assets and cause more of them to get locked up in private silos because the production users who have access to them have not been given adequate facilities to allow them to ingest assets and manage them effectively at scale. To be clear on the definitions, by ‘ingest’, I am not just talking about uploading a bunch of files, but the whole cataloguing process of applying relevant metadata so that assets can be found when searched for.”  [Read More]

2. Comprehensive Training: As with any complex system, providing a comprehensive training program to familiarise users with the DAM software’s features and functionality is essential. Offer both initial training for new users and ongoing training or supervision sessions to reinforce knowledge and introduce new features or updates. Training can be conducted through in-person workshops, webinars, documentation, or video tutorials. Make efforts to ensure that clear mechanisms are in place for DAM users to report issues, reach out for additional help or raise support tickets.

3. Clear Communication and Documentation: Develop clear and concise documentation that explains the benefits and usage of the DAM software. Provide easy-to-follow guides, FAQs, and knowledge bases to address common user queries. Regularly communicate updates, enhancements, and best practices to keep users informed and engaged. If your DAM platform relies on third-party extensions, connectors or integrations, make sure that this documentation is also available. For in-house developers, or those that have implemented a headless or API-first DAM architecture, a private sandbox for users to run commands and familiarise themselves with the features and syntax may also prove useful.

4. User Support and Help Desk: Establish a dedicated support system to assist users with any issues or questions they may have. This can include a help desk, ticketing system, or direct access to a support team. Promptly address user concerns and provide timely resolutions to build user confidence and trust in the software. If there are particular issues that are surfacing with any degree of regularity, consider sending a batch email to users that may be affected in order to provide further guidance and avoid being overwhelmed with support requests. This is often useful when a new feature or third-party application is introduced into your software stack.

5. Pilot Programs and User Champions: Implementing a pilot program whereby a select group of users can test the DAM software and provide feedback is often an excellent way to grease the wheels when rolling out a new system. Identify power users or champions within the organization who can advocate for the software and encourage others to adopt it. Leveraging the influence of such a hand-picked ‘A-team’ will allow you to promote user adoption and provide additional peer support.

6. Integration with Existing Workflows: Integrating your DAM software seamlessly with existing workflows and tools can help to reduce friction and allow users to easily incorporate the DAM software into their daily routines. Integration with popular software applications like content management systems (CMS), project management tools, or design software can be highly beneficial. The concept of providing a ‘single source of truth’ needs to be made clear to your users in order to prevent them from falling back into old habits such as having to search hard drives for brand assets or trawling through old emails to locate attachments.

7. Gamification and Incentives: Recent research has suggested that gamification and the use of reward-based workflows can yield significant improvements in employee performance and engagement. However, we would strongly recommend asking your users how they would feel about the introduction of gamification prior to implementing game-type elements such as leaderboards, badges, or rewards. Certain users may already be at-ease with their workflow and simply regard gamification as an unnecessary distraction or annoyance. Recognising and rewarding users who actively utilize the DAM software, contribute valuable content, or share best practices can encourage user participation and helps to foster a sense of ownership.

8. Continuous Improvement and Feedback Loop: Regularly collect feedback from users and actively incorporate their suggestions for improvements. Conduct surveys, user interviews, or focus groups to gather insights and identify areas for enhancement. Demonstrating that user feedback is valued and implemented helps foster a sense of ownership and encourages ongoing adoption. DAM specialist Ralph Windsor has previously written about the importance of capturing as much user data and activity as possible in order to provide insights into who, how, why and when your DAM system is being used. The more granular and in-depth your auditing metrics are, the greater your insights into its usage are likely to be.

As should be apparent from the above discussion, the more data you have available, the greater the opportunity to obtain insights from it.  This implies that as much as possible should be collected when DAM systems are being used.  If something generates a signal, it could have a value in a particular context.

Simply put, if any entity (at all) is changed, that fact needs to be captured.   Seemingly unimportant details like the delay between key presses, ‘hot spot’ areas of a screen that the user interacts with and more obvious examples like the speed with which some categories of asset get catalogued compared with others all yield potential insights.  When I say ‘everything’, I mean exactly that.

At this stage, DAM system developers and engineers will typically complain about excessive data storage and ‘bloated databases’ etc.  Cue lots of groaning about ‘do we really need to store all this stuff’ or ‘surely we can delete x, y or z?’  The bottom line is this: unlike the human subconscious, everything in an IT system is lost forever unless you explicitly specify that it should be retained.  The more data that is not captured, the more lost opportunities there are to glean inferences and predictive analytics which can drive more effective AI or ML solutions.  There is no way you can accurately predict when any of the data you just dispatched into the digital black hole will become valuable.”  [Read More]

9. Executive Support and Leadership Buy-In: Obtaining support and endorsement from organisational leaders, including executives and managers is crucial to the success of any DAM implementation – if those at the top aren’t convinced of your DAM system’s worth, it’s unlikely that those using it are going to feel inspired and any negative attitudes are invariably going to trickle down into the workforce. When leaders actively promote and use the DAM software, it sets a positive example for the rest of the organization and encourages wider adoption. As Margie Foster explains in a previous DAM News article:

…a DAM system with user buy-in, and a DAM manager willing to work to retain that buy-in, stands the greater likelihood of initial adoption and solid retention. Users who know how to best use the DAM particular to their specific needs, whose searches consistently return with high precision and low recall, are much more likely to express satisfaction. As every good DAM librarian knows, the combination of strong, measured, user-adoption rates and training is a far, far better thing, whatever the circumstances, and sometimes the user’s only hope.”  [Read More]

10. Measure and Communicate Success: Establishing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact and success of a DAM platform is the kind of data that an organisation is better off knowing; without it, a failing DAM implementation is very likely to continue floundering in the dark. As explained above, implementing mechanisms to track user engagement, content utilization, time saved, and as many other metrics a possible can be invaluable when identifying areas of improvement. Regularly sharing positive stories and metrics with users and stakeholders can help to highlight the benefits and value gained from adopting the software and encourage active participation in its evolution.

Further information on auditing your DAM users and examples of the kind of metrics you need to be storing are covered in some detail by Ralph Windsor in his article ‘DAM Vital Signs – Performance Review Techniques to Enhance ROI‘ (free subscription required).


By combining the above strategies, organisations can enhance user adoption of their DAM platform and ensure that it becomes an integral part of their digital transformation journey.  With the advent of decentralised digital asset supply chains, content hub integration, automated omni-channel distribution and storage-agnostic platforms, the idea of DAM as the one-ring-to-bind-them-all is becoming an increasingly prescient concept.  By encouraging a two-way street leadership ethos, and ensuring that your users are well-informed, supported and invited to actively participate in the growth of your company’s technological ecosystem, there’s far less chance that your DAM system will face adoption issues.

For further insights and discussion on DAM user adoption, a one-hour webinar featuring DAM professionals Henrik de Gyor, Lisa Grimm, Ian Matzen, Ralph Windsor and Frank DeCarlo is available at the link below.


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