Become an organized designer

As a web designer at an internet company, I am involved with a lot of files. Knowing where all of these files are located, what programs to use to open them and keeping them small in file size to translate to web are essential to project efficiency. Efficiency saves time and money.

Today I am going to provide some practices that you will develop into good work habits. Remember that these practices are beneficial for most computer users who deal with a wide variety of files in their daily activities.

File Folder Destinations

Create folders on your hard drive (internal or external) that are going to be easiest for you to find. Long gone are the times of having 30+ folders on your desktop cluttering your workspace beyond belief. Consider a hierarchy of projects by client name. For example;

Continuing this throughout each subfolder is critical to maintaining folder organization! Keep projects alphabetically organized. Avoid using numbers or dates at the beginning of folder names as such practice can become visibily overwhelming.

Filenames

Much like folder names and destinations, filenames are often created with good intentions only to completely befuddle the creator or co-user days/weeks/months down the road. Keep it simple and name the file what it is. The contents of the file should dictate what the filename should be. If you are working on a particular section of a site or a project, display that section name followed with a descriptive tag name next to it. Descriptive tags could be used in the form of a location on a composition, color or something that makes that particular file unique. “Why do I want to name a file something that specific?” Believe when I say that in the future you may need to find or edit this file again and naming it something unique will save you time. Also, while searching for the specific file in your operating system’s search functionality, that certain distinction will produce better results.

Syntax

If you have multiple word file names, a good idea might be to separate those names using hyphens or underscores. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but “hotpinkgraphicwebsiteheader.jpg” is not that easy of a descriptor to read! Example time :

Back up your files

This is one of those things that seems like a general inconvenience for some, but like my favorite 80’s glam metal band Cinderella sang “You Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone.” Much like car and life insurance, having a plan in case something DOES happen is way better than waking up one day to an empty hard drive thanks to a virus you may have downloaded the previous day. Invest in an external hard-drive or dedicated off site server to store back up files.

If you can develop these good working habits in your personal life as well as professional life, the less likely you are to throw a temper tantrum while looking for files!