Setting it up right from the start

Without a doubt, one of the most important parts of being a successful designer is organisation and this starts with an organised job folder and file structure.

Imagine this scenario: You’re finishing a job for a client, they give you the approval to send it to print and in the mess of your “filename v8.6.indd” or “filename v9 old.indd” or “filename – this is the final version.indd” you package up the wrong file and send it to the printers and boom – waste $20,000!

You now owe the client a lot of money!

I’ve often picked up work midway through a job and had to deal with some of the most illogical file structures. So today I am sharing my file structure with the world.

Honed over 2o years, this structure and rule-set has been created with input from some of the best designers (and account managers) I’ve ever worked with.

1. The job folder name

This will change depending on your account management software, but I’ve always made sure that you have a client code and job number and the job title. A simple example is:
CCA4782 – Christmas Card 2016.

2. The file name

This simple system works on your work files too.
CCA4782 – Christmas Card 2016 v1.indd

Note: It’s no longer 1998 so you don’t need underscores
to replace spaces unless you’re creating files for web!

The key to design is also making sure you hav past versions so that when the client inevitably goes back to the first or second version you have those files ready to go. So make sure you only ever use whole numbers ie. v1 v2 v3 v4 v5 – this helps stop any confusion about whether there is a version missing.

3. The folder structure

Here’s where it gets tricky but not really. I’ve had freelancers come in to my creative studio and pick up the folder structure quickly and then use it without fuss. This means the next freelancer who comes along can pick up that job and continue without having to spend hours finding everything.

Is where you work when you are in early stages of a campaign development. Inside here is cowboy country. It’s a mash up of ideas from a variety of people. I often use this same job folder template inside concepts but you will be forgiven if you don’t.  When a client has approved a direction or you feel you are on “the path” you can transition the job to the Development folder and Support folders.

Is for all the INDD files for ongoing campaigns. Follow the file name naming convention as outlined aboveEvery time you need to make a round of client amends, copy the current file into the Development/0. Past Genius folder and rename the new file the next version (v9 etc). This system is also a great backup system if a file corrupts.

Is for the final InDesign or other files that get sent to print or the developers etc. When a job is approved and ready to be prepared for sending out move it to the Final folder. Change the name on the file from filename v9 to filename FA where FA stands for finished art.

eg:     CCA4782 – Christmas Card 2016 FA.indd

You can choose any letters you like like but I’ve often found that printers understand this terminology.

Is for holding ZIPPED copies of what gets sent to printers for your records. You will sometimes need to send things multiple times as the client changes their mind. So follow the folder naming as IssueNo – Date – to.Who – via.Where (DB=Dropbox, Email, FTP etc)

eg:      01 – 24.06.16 – to.Dijana – via.DB

Is where you create pdfs. LoRes for quick pdfs for clients. HiRes for better quality pdfs.

Is where you store assets, briefs, and other supporting material given to you by the client. Oftentimes you can get things sent in waves so include the date it was supplied.

Is for storing all linked assets you use in your files. The key to this is making sure you name your files responsibly!

Do you have any suggestions on ways to improve my job folder and file structure? If so share it with me!

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