1–2–3 Guide for Managing Design Assets

Greg Rog
Greg Rog
Nov 20, 2017 · 5 min read

Easy as it sounds. Check out the recap and below you will find a video guide. If you work as a freelancer or in a Team — here’s the idea. We’ll use:

Sketch →UI, Abstract →Versioning, Zeplin → Handoff (Optional)


1 — Top level: Supporting & Client Libraries

In Abstract, set up New Project named ___Support — things you use often, such as UI Kits, OS Kits, Wireframe Kits, Mockups. Use one Sketch file for each asset type and make sure you set those files as Libraries.

Next, for each Client set up a separate Project, say __Dreamland Inc., where you will keep the Brand Assets — things you will use across projects for the same Client, such as logos, colors, typography. All the Sketch files here will be libraries, too.

All assets in the Library files have to be Symbols. Use / in Symbol names for grouping (e.g. keyboards/white, keyboards/black). I leave Symbols Page messy and use additional Pages to keep items organized (using Artboards). Example: Client uses different color scheme for Spring Collection — I’ll create a Spring Colors Page with all the colors’ instances in the __color.sketch Library.

Side tip: Use Batch Create Symbols and Rename It to better convert Layers to Symbols, and if you use Symbols Page, use Symbol Organizer.

2 — Middle level: Projects

Use New Project for each client work, say Dreamland iOS App. Import Supporting Libraries and Client Libraries accordingly to your needs. Create one Sketch file for the UI or split it into multiple files. If you work alone, use one file divided into Pages — one for each user flow. For teamwork, it’s better to create multiple Sketch files to avoid conflicts. There’s nothing wrong in working with many files, in fact, it can be more efficient.

Apart from top-level libraries, use middle-level libraries here. Those will be with common project design assets such as — buttons, form elements, icons etc. It’s usually an overkill to keep them in separate files, so stick to one _dreamland-ios-library and organize Symbols inside Pages for clarity. Later on, when the same Client hires you for a different project, say Dreamland iOS App for Tour Guides, simply link _dreamland-ios-library and re-use the assets.

Side Tip: In order to organize assets inside pages for better preview, use Craft Plugin and shortcut: Cmd + Shift + C.

3 — Bottom level: UI Design Files

This is either one Sketch file with multiple Pages, or multiple Sketch files where you work on the UI. Unless it’s a really small project, resist the urge of keeping Symbols in the design files. Ideally, keep only the Symbols that are specific to that file and won’t be used outside. Example: If I use the same background for all the onboarding screens, but not outside, I’ll keep the background as a Symbol inside User Onboarding.sketch file. If that’s the background I might use elsewhere, I move it to _dreamland-ios-library.

I keep the _dreamland-ios-library opened in the background and after designing some screens I stop for a moment to get the naming right, move the Symbols and replace them in the design file. It’s really not that much of a hustle. The point is you want to focus on the design process. Try not to worry too much about what should go where. After you create a couple of screens or when you get a bit tired, take a short break and organize the assets. That way you’ll create each following screen faster and — in the meantime — project’s library.

Side tip: Use Sketch Runner in order to quickly call Symbols by name

BONUS — Your Developer ❤️️ it

If you play the cards right, there is no need to create any additional specs — developers can use Zeplin and the library files to create bits and pieces of code first (build atoms and molecules — extract colors, font sizes). Afterward, the design files let them put it all together (build organisms — measure the distances and position the elements).

Also, if you are looking for some ways to organize and set up a Design Framwework, you can check out this article.

And 💥 you’re all set!

Video — How it works in detail + Tips!

Here’s a 24-minute long video tutorial divided into 3 parts, that will show you how to apply 1–2–3 Rule in your design workflow, plus some extra Tips:

Click on the Image to watch the Lessons

Pros 👍

  • Clear structure, easy to follow for any type of work
  • Libraries can be linked between different projects
  • Easy updates and quicker delivery for existing clients
  • Version Control benefits — backup for all your files, version history, working in a team and resolving conflicts and more!

Cons 👎

  • You have to Save → Commit library file in the same Project, and Save → Commit → Merge to Master libraries from other Projects before Symbols gets updated
  • Text Styles as well as Shared Styles are not available from linked library — keep that in mind, in this case, use text blocks as Symbols

Hope you’ve learned something useful! If so — please check out over 40 hours of video tutorials for UI/UX designers on 👉 learnux.io


Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

Greg Rog

Written by

Greg Rog

** Idea Architect ** @ learnux.io

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

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