Let’s talk about one of the marketers’ vicious nightmares. I mean the situation when the client approaches you with the request to find that particular visualization/ branded image/ screenshot “we were working on” millions of years ago. And you spend a whole day digging through the files and opening one folder after another. Does it sound familiar to you? Far worse, these are not only marketers who feel this pain but other professionals who work with visual assets.
As it turned out, technology has already produced a solution for you on that occasion. This tool is called Image Database Software, and it has all chances to save you from exhausting data searches. Besides, this tool can help with tracking images, managing them, and sharing with teams and clients.
However, when you as an entrepreneur finally decide to get an image management system, you collide with a new dilemma — which one to choose. As you research the topic, you notice that modern-day technology offers a bunch of tools. Similar tools. So, an average business owner may feel lost both in terms of their types and the criteria to choose from.
Let’s check these out together…
What is Image Database Software and Do I Even Need It?
As said, image database software is a tech-based tool that improves the way your company uses images. Specifically, it helps to store, manage, and distribute large collections of photos.
Such software is a must if:
- You as a professional want to keep pace with the times;
- Your company works with visual assets;
- Your company aims to be innovative and up-to-date.
The photo management system presents a range of benefits for your company’s advantage when working with photos:
- Access & organization. With the use of image database software, the marketers’ nightmare we spoke about is no longer a scenario. Your team is relieved from hours of checking the folders in the hope to find precisely that file. The onboarding process goes smoothly. Now the manager only needs to provide access to the company’s visuals for newcomers. The tool is also useful when the company has to share its image collection with its clients or partners.
- Management. Photo management software is more than a storage and organization instrument. Depending on its type, the tool creates other unique opportunities for entrepreneurs, including tagging, collaboration, or sharing visual assets.
- Archiving & backups. Tech-based photo organizers also save businesses from the occasional image loss due to technical problems or human error. Most professionals would recognize themselves in the situation when they deleted a file and understood that they needed it after a while.
- Security. As a rule, photo management software grants your files with an extra layer of protection. The manager can provide access on different levels per request.
- Analytics. The tool is especially useful to gather statistics on how your team is working with images. Let’s say who are the most active users or what tools are more frequently used than others.
Three Types of Photo Management Software Available Today
Now that you understand the advantages of image management software, your team will likely agree on incorporating it into their daily routine. But, at this stage, you’re only halfway through the process. To choose the best tool, the next steps will be to select the type of image organization software and the criteria for its usage.
Type 1. General File Management Software
This type includes the most common file storage services available online. The well-known examples are Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and SkyDrive. As a professional, you are probably already familiar with them.
The primary advantages of this type include the ability to store high volumes of data in one place, a user-friendly interface, and cost-efficiency. Besides, this software generally offers a few additional features such as sharing the links to your files or, vice versa, making them hidden from other users.
All this could be enough for an advanced user. For companies, the functionality of services like Google Drive is limited, regardless of their updates in recent years. Among the most critical constraints:
- The software does not allow to attach any metadata — a set of contextual data that teams may need to differentiate between images.
- The software is difficult to search for and manage large-scale data.
- The software does not provide any backups of your data.
Type 2. Proofing platforms
If you want to track changes your teammates make and approve designs in one click, using proofing tools is worth considering.
Filestage.io is one of the most common and efficient proofing tools out there. Here's how it assists creative team managers in creating consistent review workflows:
- You can create a sequence of reviews each asset needs to pass before it's approved.
- Track the progress of all reviews in real time on a stylish dashboard.
- Reach all of your stakeholders via a single tool.
- Leave comments and timestamps on files.
Type 3. Photo Libraries
In turn, the second type implies a repository specifically designed for photographers and graphic designers. Photo libraries like iStock or Veer would allow your company to store large amounts of photos. The most advanced of them such as SmugMug will provide your team with a few management tools as well. These vary from a traditional sharing feature to more image specific solutions such as editing.
Nonetheless, alike general file management software, photo libraries have their drawbacks:
- Designed specifically for storing photos, the tool supports any image formats yet no other type of content.
- This software is also limited in functionality. With photo libraries, your team will unlikely get any metadata or collaboration opportunities.
Type 4. Digital Asset Management (DAM) Software
This type implies a more sophisticated technology that goes beyond storage and access to visual content only. DAM solution compensates for the limitations present in general file management software or photo libraries. This is why your company will likely benefit from its advanced functionality such as the search by keywords or the support of more formats.
Another peculiarity of DAM includes its orientation on a wider professional audience. Unlike photo libraries, DAM targets different users: marketers of all branches, managers, and web professionals. At the same time, its professional audience is narrower than in general file management software, designed for an ordinary user.
DAM will also impress you with the extensive collaboration opportunities. Teams can comment on files, tag their colleagues, share images with teammates and clients. In the end, your company increases the asset value and improves the workflow.
The only challenge of DAM would be its costs as compared to general file management software, which is usually free of charge. You can still switch to solutions like Pics.io which are cost-efficient thanks to using your own storage. Plus, be aware that your team would need some time to get used to more complex software.
How to Choose Image Database Software?
As obvious, each type of photo management software has its own pros and cons. And your hesitation only continues to grow when you review each individual solution.
To be honest, we cannot recommend an ideal tool that suits every company under any circumstances. Such software simply does not exist. We can yet relieve the suffering by mentioning the criteria you should pay attention to. Just select those that are the most relevant to your company, and this will help you to choose the best image database software:
- Size of your team. While Google Drive or Dropbox will be a good solution for small teams who work with limited image volume, DAM will suit better for middle-sized businesses. DAM will also help if your business frequently cooperates with clients, partners, or freelancers.
- The industry you are working in. File management software, as well as DAM, is suitable for almost any industry. For instance, DAM is frequently used by agencies, educational institutions, and tech companies. In contrast, individual graphic designers and photographers may prefer photo libraries.
- Functionality. When choosing image database software, try to think about the problem your business aims to solve with it. For example, general file management software is good at storing visual assets. DAM will grant you more extensive functionality such as attaching metadata to your content or choosing between the revisions of the same asset.
- Amount of free space. Each individual software offers you a different amount of available space. Free 15 GB delivered by Google Drive seems a good deal as compared to Dropbox’s 2 GB.
- Reliability & Security. The most famous services are usually the most trustable. Businesses know Google Drive or DropBox as reputable services in the field. However, teams may play around and choose DAM tools that work on the top of these.
- Price. A “free” general file management solution seems the most promising at first glance. Companies still need to acknowledge that they would likely pay for more space or additional services. Be cautious not to pay twice.
And One More Advice…
When choosing between different photo management services, you will see that some solutions appear more promising than others. Opt for the one that is the most appropriate for the needs of YOUR company. Just remember that you don’t have to choose one criterion at the expense of the other.
For instance, with DAM, your company doesn’t have to sacrifice more available space for improved functionality. Tools like Pics.io work on the top of your chosen storage service. Hence, you will have it all: functionality and space, and security provided by the original storage service. Unlike photo libraries, DAM is also not limited to the use of a particular format. Pics.io supports a whole variety of image formats, from traditional JPG and PNG formats to designer files such as Adobe XD or Sketch.
So, what image database software will you choose? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments.