Designing elegant metadata

Stephanie Lemieux, President and Principal Consultant, Dovecot Studio and Romney Whitehead, Director, Borrowed Insight

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Abstract: The advancement of digital asset management technologies, the need for integrated content systems and the huge proliferation of digital assets require equal advancements in the design and use of metadata to manage those assets. Alongside this, the importance of metadata within businesses is now being recognised as equal to content. To leverage their metadata, organisations must ensure the data are well organised, well managed, adopted and owned. Finding the perfect middle ground between simple systems and basic tags, through to complex multifunctional and multidimensional metadata management is challenging. The many difficulties can result in metadata being neglected and end users becoming disengaged. Creating elegant metadata means designing solutions that balance complex needs in a simple yet powerful way, thus making them more effective. This paper will discuss the ways in which metadata can be made elegant, and in turn become a valuable tool for users and business. To support the adoption and use of metadata, the paper also discusses how to avoid common pitfalls associated with the creation of metadata.


Keywords: metadata design, metadata modelling, metadata management, taxonomy, user experience, system interoperability, change management


Stephanie Lemieux is an information management consultant and taxonomy and metadata expert. She has more than 15 years experience helping global organisations across industries structure, manage and organise their content and data. She is Chair of the Taxonomy Boot Camp, and a regular speaker at information management conferences around the world. Stephanie is also a frequent guest lecturer at McGill University, where she earned her master’s in library and information studies with a specialisation in knowledge management.


Romney Whitehead is a content supply chain expert, specialising in all aspects of digital asset management, content and data management across business and technology sectors. After starting as a digital asset management manager at the BBC 25 years ago, she moved to YOOX Net-A-Porter as a software development manager and commercial product owner, before founding her own consultancy, Borrowed Insight Ltd. Clients include Nestlé, EA Sports, Novatis, Michelin and Vileda.


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