Make your files great again

Christopher Lee

I’m organized. Some people would say I’m very, very, very organized. I don’t know, but that’s what people are telling me. Every workplace struggles with developing a system that is understandable and easy to sort through. So take it from me — I’m pretty much the greatest person at organizing files. You can ask anyone.

Designers can develop bad habits, such as mislabeling layers or hiding linked files in an inaccessible location. This can be a hassle for a developer or another designer that may have to create new jobs based on your designs. Developing a folder and file structure within the workplace can help create efficient file handoff to developers and easy access for other designers.

Here are a few terrific pointers in creating a more efficient file workflow:

File folder structure

liquidfish recently re-evaluated our local file folder structure. We wanted to create a system that works whether it’s web, print, social media, etc. In our case, we created a “Working” folder that consists of the latest working file, “Resource” and “Copy” folders, and then a “Final” folder, in which all press and final files are dropped. Just this simple distinction can help when passing files to a printer or developer.

Name your files

When dealing with multiple versions of a file, try avoiding using terms like “NEW”. It can cause confusion and no one wants to try to find the last version of the file by searching by “Date Modified.”  A method I found useful is adding “_v#” at the end of the file, example: “JobTitle-TypeofProject_v1.psd.”

Name your layers

At some point, someone else is going to have open your file. Ease their frustration of sifting through 100 layers by creating hierarchy with folders and descriptive layer names. Organizing layers in your PSDs is key to providing an efficient flow during development handoff. Need help? Here’s a handy guide. It’s sensational.

Provide Assets

After a job is complete, package your files, and include any other images or fonts that may be needed for future projects. The next designer or developer will thank you for providing the logo file that they didn’t have to search through your project files to find. I guarantee it.

Find what works for you and your work environment. If you still need help, this is a great resource for web designers. You’ll be so proud of your files, and you can make them great again!