File Management for Designers

A simple yet comprehensive organizational system

Neil Shankar
May 8, 2018 · 4 min read

Benefits

I use this organizational system to accomplish the following:

  • Document the entire design process
  • Share WIP and deliverable vector files & exports
  • Track and share outlinks

Example: Android Things

androidthings.withgoogle.com
  • We had two launch stages with completely different designs.
  • We frequently shared files with our client (the Android Things strategy team), the photo rep agency Apostrophe, and the prop studio Figure Plant.
  • We had three designers on this account: Laura Polkus, Andres Acero, and myself.

Masterdoc

At the start of every project, I create a “masterdoc” in Google Docs where I curate all relevant outlinks for the project. This includes links to briefs, decks, references, inspiration, Gallery projects, etc.

  • Writing — I want to keep notes and deadlines in the same place as my outlinks.
  • Hierarchy—When using browser bookmarks, it can be cumbersome to deal with heavily-nested folders. I prefer scanning a doc.

Directory structure

After I make the masterdoc, I create a new directory in Google Drive for the project. I use Backup and Sync, so this directory is auto-synced with my local machine. This lets me quickly share Drive links for particular files directly from Finder.

  • before/after—Screenshots of production/live site
  • assets—Logos, colors, etc. (usually provided by client)
  • deliverables—Complete handoff directory (for client & dev)
  • mocks—Iterations/exports (named v1 & v2 above)

Screenshots

For redesigns, it’s important to document the existing website to reference in a future case study or portfolio presentation. I recommend using a Chrome extension that allows you to take 1-click whole-page screenshots. If you forget to take screenshots beforehand, you might have some luck with the Wayback Machine.


Export naming

I categorize my exports by UI page type. The directory names correspond 1-to-1 with the page names in my master Sketch file.

  • Preserves past iterations without cluttering my master vector files
  • Provides a quick response to “Have you tried…?” questions from client

Your structure

This is the organizational structure that works for me. Rather than prescribing it to you, I hope this gives you the insight to create a system that works for you.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google

Neil Shankar

Written by

UI designer by trade. Front-end developer by training. tallneil.io

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google