Delivering Details: Product Design Process from File Structure to Deliverables
A 3-part video series showing a behind-the-scene look at my design process
1. File naming & File Structure
Naming design files and folder structure can seems overly elementary and mundane. However, I have found over the years that having not only organized, but easy to find files for my projects provides peace of mind and efficiency.
Feel free to watch me talk for 9 minutes in the video above, but here are some quick rules I try to follow for all my projects.
- Use a naming structure for root folders
I prefer the “00_name, 01_name, 02_name” approach so I can force the order of my root folders. I keep a template folder of this structure and make a copy every time I start a new project.
- Dates help provide context on iteration
For core design files (Sketch, Illustrator and Photoshop) and milestone export folders, I always start the name with a “YYYYMMDD_name.” This help me look back and reference my files against the progress of a long project.
- Always share (Dropbox, GoogleDrive, etc)
This goes without saying, but I constantly attach Dropbox/Google Drive links to folders & files for clean and direct email/communication.
- Keep everything
Storage is virtually free these days, so until Josh Brewer, Tim Van Damme, & the Abstract team launch their Beta, Ill be copy and pasting versioned files and putting my past work in “04_versions.” I also keep all of my origin and inspiration files/screenshots/whatever in “_src” as a junk drawer in the event that I need to redo a design/asset.
2. User Flows in Sketch
In the video above, I constantly say “wireframe,” but I’m referring user flows specifically, not the structure of a layout. The goal of this document is to consider the entire product flow and the possible twists and turns that need to be accounted for technically and/or with screens.
I created this Sketch template, complete with smart symbols and a set of icons to identify the category of step. This is a nice a efficient way to create a document that helps communicate the product needs to other stakeholders and get consensus on your flows. I wanted a resource that wasn’t so detailed that it required the details of layout & wireframes, yet still forced me to look at each step of a product flow.
Free Sketch Template
Feel free to download the template and give it a try. Would love to hear your thoughts. 🤘
Adding Screens to the Template
I also wanted to add a version of these symbols that incorporated screens with the flow to help add more context. I can imagine this being used with wireframes as well, but this template has allowed me to quickly export some screens from my core Sketch file and utilize in a simple and clear flow showing a high-level overview of the product.
The downfall to this document is that it still only delivers a flat, raster asset that isn’t easily sharable for collaboration…see Part 3. 🤔
3. Communicating Interaction in Sketch & Google Drawings
Sharing flows and steps is one thing…communicating touch points and actual interaction is another level of detail. Be it hover, tap, long press, or double finger swipe…the interaction of a product flow is important as the states or screens themselves.
I used some simple visual queues (included in the template) to help communicate interaction, but wanted to push this further. The contribution of a team is priceless and essential (in my experience) for great product. Making my flows and designs accessible and visible to all my counterparts & colleagues is critical in the iteration of my design solutions.
While at Google/Android, I was introduced to a workflow utilizing Google Doc services for sharing. One can easily share their designs with comments and flow details, while also having the functionality of sharing and commenting. The other huge value is that this single link to a document can stay constant, as your design evolves and changes. One of the biggest issues in our industry is documenting change, evolutions, and where the product team sits on that timeline. I don’t think Google Drawings is a final solution, but it has been the best practice I have used for large teams at scale.
If you have reached this point, thanks for reading and making it this far. I love sharing my process and contributing to the larger narrative in our industry. Id love to continue this conversation to help designers be more efficient and productive in their process. Cheers.