Design Workflow: 4 tips to keep your Sketch files organized

Keeping your files organized, regardless of whether they are .sketch, .psd or any other format is essential. If we may get lost when we have to change that interface designed a while ago, imagine how another professional would feel if he had to update it.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Today I’ll share some techniques that I use to keep my Sketch files organized without losing agility in the process.

1. Use pages

The Pages feature is kinda hard to find right away, since it's hidden in the upper left corner.

However, this feature is very handy to keep your files organized, since it becomes really hard to find stuff when you have a lot of artboards on the same page. Furthermore, the more artboards on a page, the longer you have to wait for them to render.

Here at HE:labs we create one page for each user flow.

2. Organize your layers

I design the elements of my interfaces based on the atomic design theory, which categorize them in atoms, molecules, organisms, templates and pages. The concepts of templates and pages are not that important in my approach, so I'll focus on the other 3 concepts:

  • Atoms: Lower level components that make little sense on their own.
    Examples: shapes, buttons, text boxes, text labels, icons, etc.
  • Molecules: Basic combination between atoms.
    Examples: text box + button = search box, shape + icon + text label = card, etc.
  • Organisms: A group of molecules. For example, a navigation bar can hold a menu, comprised by a set of text labels and a search box. This complex interface section can be considered an organism because, different from the atom, it starts to make sense on its own.
    Examples: Headers, footers, etc.

3. Name your elements consistently

It’s crucial to keep the naming of interface elements under control. Ideally, they should be short and descriptive. This rule is even more important when dealing with assets that will be used by your developers, like icons and images.

Without going into platform specific rules, I have three rules of thumb when naming elements:

  • Use prefixes. 
    Examples: img_header, ic_header, bg_header
  • Names should be in english by convention. This may sound weird if you're a native english speaker, but if you are used to communicate in another language, try to keep your elements' names in english or at least leave out accents and symbols that only make sense in your language.
  • Talk to the developers that work with you, show them the way you organize your files and commit to it for the whole project.

4. Use Symbols

Symbols are great to organize your reusable elements, from lower level ones, like your buttons and text boxes, to more complex ones, like your navigation bars or headers.

Unfortunately, Sketch still doesn't have a feature that allows you to export a Symbols' library. On the latest update, Sketch released a totally revamped version of the Symbol feature. Now, among many other changes, it generates a page with all the symbols used on a project. If you're designing an UI kit that will be used in other projects, you can save it as a template and reuse it whenever you want.

A good way to keep the different states of your symbols organized is to use 
" / " when naming them. You can add the " / " after its name and then describe its state.

When you need to reuse this symbol, this will happen:

You can use this feature to create as many states as you need. Just be careful so things don't get messy.

Conclusion

If you got this far and want to know more tips on how to improve your workflow using Sketch, here are some links that can help you:

Thanks :)

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