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RE product translation key

March 26, 2008

For every image that you see on a website, there is some poor fuck (me) that has to sift through a mine field of imagery, notes, commentary, photography to select the exact image that will be featured. Multiply this by hundreds (as images change seasonally, which, in retail, is like every month), and you can imagine the level of work that is entailed in a very simple site refresh.

Because this is seen as “important,” all the major hitters at my company have to weigh in. All these people have different styles. So here’s what happens:


1. Marketing puts together a spreadsheet to determine which images go where
2. Mktg prints out every single page of the web site that will be affected and puts it on a board
3. VP of creative (that is my boss’ boss)looks at these pages and consults photography printouts/databases (none of these do we have access to) to scrounge up the images she would like. Because she “cannot work in excel” and is “more hands on” and “is a visual person,” she will make color printouts. Cut up the color printouts. Then, i shit you not, glue them in place to the template webpages that are currently on the corkboard.
4. The mktg team will take down the cut and paste papers and go through them with merchandising
5. Merch will confirm with planning and suggest changes
6. Marketing will update the changes
7. Mktg and the VP will go over all the changes and argue about what should go where
8. Mktg will give me a final spreadsheet with the changes. Usually these are about 75% complete.
9. Creative sifts through various databases of imagery (some which does not exist, or some that is not online)to find the images. Then we will crop, optimize, color correct, etc.
10. Web team then uploads the images and the back end creates a test site
11. Executive review of the site–all the people who were involved in steps 1-8 will now look at the site “live” and see if any changes need to be made. Usually this occurs less than 2 weeks after they “approved” all the changes. Naturally, given the opportunity to make changes, they do. And we have to repeat all the above steps.

In the 2 weeks I’m allotted to update imagery (usually its 4 days because they are never on time), I have to sift through a gazillion image databases since nothing is cohesively organized. The main database I rely on is filemaker. However, to access the images in filemaker, I need to have the exact name given to me on the spreadsheet.

Check out these discrepancies:

What they asked for: neck pillow
What the real name is: Mette Vangso Lavender Neck-Hugger

what they asked for: deep purple mother’s day bouquet
Correct name: blue hyacinth bouquet

What they wanted: family journals
Correct name: personal record book

What they want: circle birthstone pendant
What it is: Mother’s embrace birthstone necklace

What they want: ring tree
What it is: sculpted jewelry catchall

what they want: tea set
what it is: Le Palais de Thes gift set

Since the search is keyword based, imagine the nightmare when none of the keywords match. Given that this is usually the first time I get to see the season’s imagery, I’m not familiar with either the actual product names that went to print (since these also change daily) and/or the correct ballpark imagery. When I cant find a matching name, I have to sift through printouts of catalog proofs to see what could possibly be a “ring tree,” then find a name that may or may not be more accurate. And then take that name and start the search all over again.

I won’t even get into the process of the actual production part of the project from our end, because that is another nightmare in itself. (essentially, all photos are shot portrait. But our lovely website was designed by the stupid agency to feature landscape photography).

A seemingly simple image update is no longer so simple is it? Run it through the corporate generator and this is the shit that comes out. No wonder this company is about to fold.

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