Organisation admittedly doesn’t come naturally to us designers.
You’re working on various projects, saving various file types, then next thing you know, the once glorious desktop wallpaper you had is no more and instead replaced with an array of “Untitled” files.
If only you had SOME organisation skills to make storing client files easier, revisions more manageable, and file transfer an absolute walk in the park. Luckily your good friend Penna has you covered, eh?
1) Naming conventions are important
Yes, I’m fully aware that it’s much easier to save files as “Untitledv1001” but, that’s super lazy, and you know it.
Not only is it lazy, but it makes your life a living hell when it comes to needing to find specific files. How on earth are you going to tell what a file is without the right naming convention?
I’ve recently been working on a website design prototype for a writing company. They need several pages designed, and such, each page needs to be easily labeled.
An example of this is Highly-Qualified-Team-Example.jpg. It tells me exactly what I need to know about that file, right from the get-go, and most importantly, informs the client too upon first glance. Nice and simple.
Here’s a formula you can use to make life easier:
- Purpose of design > Client > Version Number (or if final, final) > File Extension
- The same process follows for when you need to create folders too, which by the way, you always should.
- At the root of every folder, I make sure that the clients’ name/business name is at the forefront. Inside the folder will be other folders, depending on the type of projects I’ve completed.
- The Kettle Rack Jewellers asked me to work on a logo design. Here’s how I manage their files.
- The Kettle Rack > Two Folders – Examples, Final > Examples contains all references and concepts > Final contains source file for the project, various logo files (each in individual folders), and profile pictures for their socials, which again, is in its folder.
2) Create folders
The worst thing you can do is have all of your files in one single folder. It’s messy and will make finding the right files near enough impossible if you’ve worked on various projects for the same client.
Folders will help you distinguish which files belong to which project and specific file types for ease of access.
When it comes to you needing to transfer files across to clients, you won’t have to search through thousands of files to find the right one. Instead, you’ll be able to drag and drop at your leisure.
If I work on a logo design, I usually have the following file types ready: .EPS, .PNG, .JPG, and .PDF.
Each design will usually need to be in white, black, monochrome, and full colour. This creates A LOT of files.
So, this is how I structure everything…
Business Name / Logo Name
File type (whether it be .EPS, .PNG, .JPG, or .PDF)
- Logo version (whether it be white, black, monochrome, or full colour)
- Inside the third folder will be each file named: Name > Logo Version > File Type
- The Kettle Rack (First Folder)
- .EPS (Second Folder)
- Black Logo (Third Folder – more created for other versions if necessary)
File name inside the third folder, in this case, would be: The-Kettle-Rack-Logo-Black.eps
3) Have a drive dedicated to just client-work
Eventually, you’re going to have 100’s of folders for each client that you’ve worked with over time.
Dedicate a space where you only have client work, somewhere you can go to with ease to see a list of business names/client names. When you need to find a specific name, you can either:
Type the first initial of the client (this will start highlighting different folders beginning with that initial)
Type the name of your client in the search bar!
If you’re working with a client that goes by various business names, start the first folder off with the clients’ name and the folders inside, the different business names that said client goes by.
4) Store EVERYTHING
I know you’ve been in a position before where a client has reached out to you, needing changes made to a file that you believe you still have, and, unfortunately for you, it appears you’ve misplaced it. Panic sets in, and you try your hardest to recreate what you originally made.
Not a practical solution by any means, and what you should be doing instead is storing everything you have. And I mean, everything.
As an apprentice, I worked for some time at a local print shop, which opened my eyes to efficient organisation techniques. They stored every single item regarding a client in a physical cabinet, with dated files and folders.
Think about your digital files in the same way. They stored everything from receipts, conversations, notes, sketches, examples, invoices, and finalised work. If they ever needed to refer back to anything, all they had to do was look inside their cabinet, and wah-lah, the information is there for them to peruse.
Have everything you’ll ever need on deck to save time in the future. You might never need to look back at some of the files you store, but what if you do?
Preparation is key.
5) Create back-ups
A heart-breaking story for any designers out there that have ever lost files. One day your computer decides it hates its life and implodes, all of your precious files lost, time spent beautifully organising. Gone. Forever.
If you’ve never been there, I envy you, my friend.
Trust me, do yourselves a favor and make back-ups. If it hasn’t happened yet, you will, unfortunately, experience this at some point due to technical fault. So be prepared.
Method 1: External Hard Drive
I have an external hard drive for all my client work, design files, and any business files I’d like to keep backed up. Being that you can pick-up external hard drives with good read/write speeds and plenty of space for cheap, this is definitely a cost-effective option. The drive I currently use is no longer on sale, but this is an even better recommendation – updated hardware and much faster than my five-year-old drive.
Method 2: Cloud Back-ups
Cloud back-ups are so easy to use, you can use most services without needing a subscription, but if you need that extra bit of space, I’d most definitely recommend upgrading your account.
I use Google Drive to back up my files, and when I need to send files across to clients, I can easily do so by copying a link and sending it their way.
Another recommendation would be Dropbox – something I’ve used in the past and has worked quite well for me. Both Dropbox and Google Drive have desktop apps available that allow you to drag and drop files from your desktop to your cloud-based backups.
- Give your files and folders proper naming conventions
- Organise your files and folders efficiently
- Store everything you design, and receive from a client
- Regularly make back-ups of your files
- Create a home for just client work
- Love life knowing you’re an efficient beast