The new Digital Asset Bank, Guest Blog
The recurrent theme of the second newsletter has been Investment and not just financial, social and personal time have also been covered. So this quarter my guest blogger Joel Hughes (of Jojet) will explain the knitty gritty details of the all new secure download portal, aka Digital Asset Bank, my major investment in the past few months. Joel has always helped me with all the crazy web based projects I dream up, so naturally when the time came to create a bespoke file delivery system (designed on the back of an envelope) he was the obvious choice for the task. Here’s his description of the project (Jones).
Joel: As Jones says, we’ve been working together for quite a while now on a wide spectrum of web based projects; from creating a new website to looking at useful new platforms such as Instagram. We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to use the latest technology to improve the customer experience. One such opportunity is a method for Jones to quickly deliver files to clients with tight deadlines via his existing website. Huw‘s clients often require immediate access to photographs or videos and he regularly faces ridiculous short deadlines which he could not fulfill by just popping a disk in the post. Along with quick, the system also had to be secure and robust enough to guarantee reliability. And as if this wasn’t enough Jones also demanded it was simple to operate – simple enough for a photographer/trained chimp with a camera (delete as appropriate).
Huw had briefly flirted with Apple’s mobile.me online storage service; he would upload files and clients would be able to login (via a website) and access their files. The system had some shortcomings but, as a whole, it worked. This situation changed though when Apple pulled the plug on the service (as part of the consolidation to their iCloud concept). iCloud didn’t have a similar facility so the hunt was on for a new service…
Can we build it?
We looked at a few other off the shelf options but there was always something which didn’t quite fit. We knew that the access of files was a key touch point for his clients and we wanted that experience to be as slick and painless as possible; Anybody who’s spent a day in the studio with Jones knows how well he likes to treat his clients and this was an opportunity to continue that same high standard of hospitality and care all the way through to the clients own desktop.
So, we decided to bite the bullet and write a new, secure, simple file portal from scratch.
The new file portal pulls in Huw’s blog feed on the login page to give greater visibility to his recent blog posts; a core principle with web strategy is that we always try to connect the dots between client’s online outputs; Jones enjoys a great relationship with all his clients and most of them like to keep abreast of what he’s been up to recently via his blog, mainly (I suspect) because it saves having to talk to him.
Secure & Simple to use
The system was designed to be as simple to use as possible; not only from the clients perspective but also Huw’s; who didn’t need a complex addition to his busy workflow. He was already happy with the FTP file transfer method so we used a more secure version of this approach to power the portal.
To set up a client on the file portal, all Huw has to do is to locally create a new folder for the client, drop a username/password into a special text file, add in the photos/videos he wants to share and then upload it to the portal where everything will just work; automagically.
On logging in, the client is shown a list of client folders (but you can only click on your own). Clicking on your own folder reveals your files. Clients can simply select which files they wish to download and the portal will create a single ZIP file of all the files.
The beauty of a bespoke system is that you can amend it and adapt it as your needs grow. For instance, image or video playback of files could well be an option, as could a ‘favorite’ facility for clients to note key files etc. However, what we don’t want to do is to burden the end user with too much functionality; it always has to be easy to use.
Post Script (Jones). If you are still reading this and would like to discuss any geeky techy stuff Please get in touch with Hughes, if you say I sent you then you’re probably eligible for a free inflatable alien!