Why Designers Should Organize Their Files
If you are a designer who works on multiple projects at a time, you know how important it is to stay organized. Saving files in various location, all with different file names, can be confusing and end up costing you time and money.
For most graphic designers there arenâ€™t enough hours in the day, so every minute counts. Below I will show you my own method of keeping my files organized. Hopefully it will end up helping you organize your files, save you time, and make you more money!
How to Organize Your Folders for Graphic Design
I personally like to have a separate hard drive for all of my graphic design work. This makes opening/saving files much quicker. It also allows me to make backup copies of everything super fast. On top of all that, it adds a little extra protection. Should something happen to my main hard drive, there is a good chance the design hard drive will still be safe.
Not everyone can afford a separate hard drive right off the bat but, there are other things you can do. You could partition your hard drive so that you have another drive to dedicate to your design work. Or, you could always just create a file and name it something like â€œDesign Workâ€ or â€œYour Company Name.â€
Once you get your initial â€œroot folderâ€ made, you can start creating the sub folders. Here is what I have in my root folder:
- Clients â€“ Each client gets their own folder. ( I will go more into client folders later )
- Forms â€“ Here is where I keep important forms such as contracts, invoices, and Copyright Agreements
- Stock â€“ This is where I keep any images/videos that I pay for or download online
- Download â€“ Any programs that I down load such as WordPress, Joomla, Etc end up here
You can always add more folders to fit your needs. Web designers may have script folders, HTML folders, and more. The key here is to take some time to analyze your files and figure out how you can organize them to best suit your needs. Just remember, you might not figure it out on your first try. I re-organized my root folder countless times before I had it setup like I wanted.
Organizing Client Folders
Just having a dedicated folder for each client isnâ€™t enough. Before you know it, that folder will be filled with all kinds of files and you wonâ€™t be able to find anything. Letâ€™s assume for a minute that I am creating a complete brand identity, i.e. logo, business cards, stationary, etc. Here is how I would organize the clientsâ€™ folder:
a. Source Files â€“ All PSD, AI, etc files go here
b. Samples â€“ Any samples that get sent to the client get saved here
c. Artwork â€“ Art work sent in by client goes here. Donâ€™t save original stock images in here, leave them in the stock folder. Instead, save only modified versions that are specific to the logo.
a. Same as above
3. Business Card
a. Same as above
b. You get the idea
a. Here I keep copies of any forms I send the client. I also scan signed contracts and keep copies of them in here for safe keeping.
Naming Your Graphic Design Files
Equally important to organizing your folders, is to organize your files, or should I say, file names. There are two things I like to do when naming my files, one is the use of keywords, and the other is strategic use of capital letters.
For example, letâ€™s say I just finished a logo for a private jet charter company. I would save the files as such:
And so on and so forth. Even though we have special folders for samples and source files, I like to add this to the file name for easy identification. I have when I accidently email or upload the source file to the client instead of the sample, so this capitalizing helps me easily recognize the type of file Iâ€™m sending.
The date aspect of the file name is simple; Month, Day, Year.
Well, there you have it. You should be well on your way to getting your graphic design files organized. I suggest setting aside a good portion of the day to really get everything organized. Creating a rough outline of organization system on paper first is also a good idea, as it will help save you some frustration.
Who knows, once you get your graphic design files organized, you might even feel like organizing your internet bookmarks, and dare I say, your email client?
Do you have any tips for organizing your graphic design files and folders?