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Tips for keeping your design files organized

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tips for keeping your design files organized

Organization is key to your success as a graphic designer and it’s vital to have a solid framework for finding and managing your files across dozens of projects. However, like people organize their homes in many ways, they have the same number of ways of organizing their files. The system outlined below is not perfect nor solve all your dilemmas, but it will get you started on an organized path.

Why organize?

  • Design better. Whenever you spend more than a minute searching for a file, you interrupt your natural creative flow and that’s when stress starts to creep in.
  • Restore a sense of control. By putting things in order, however small they are, you’ll be more confident about your design decisions.
  • Learn a valuable design lesson. Design is about organization, structure and putting the right things in the right place. By putting your files in the proper order, you’re recognizing a major design principle.

Folder structure

  1. Main folder
  2. Client folder
  3. Project folder

Folder structure within project folder:

  • Client Input: This folder is a catch-all for documents and notes from the client during the course of the project.
  • Business: Estimates, project quotes, schedules, proposals should find their way into this folder.
  • Assets: Design elements are housed in this folder — original photos, vectors, icons, client logos, color palettes, etc.
  • Versions: Here’s where you keep the design files as you work on them. Remember, all the original files used to construct your designs (like photos and icons) should go into the assets file. Whenever you make changes to a design file, never save them back over the original. Instead, use the “save as…” command to save them under a new version. This way you’ll keep track of number of changes you make, as well as when you made them.
  • Final/Production: This folder is where you keep all of your final files. For print projects, it’s the place for your prepress files that can be sent to the printer, like PDFs and final collected files (links, fonts and so on). For web projects, this is where you put the HTML version of the site, if you do the coding.

Back Files Up Regularly

Now that you’ve gotten your files organized, you MUST back them up regularly. What if your computer crashes and you have to have it wiped clean in order to get it functioning properly? How you backup is a matter of preference — external hard drive or an online hard drives such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Both sources are free initially, with a paid subscription option if you max out the limit. A plus with online hard drives is they are accessible anywhere.

West Press’ talented staff is here to help you each step of the way — from graphic design to printing to mailing services to large format to website development. Contact West Press or your Account Executive at 520-624-4939 today.