Improve Productivity by Properly Organizing Your Folders in Photoshop

In the digital world, organising files is an essential part of efficiency. This practice even goes down to the smallest details, like organising every Photoshop layer and each line of CSS.

My career has changed from working only on print projects to only working on digital projects. I want to share what I have picked up over the years.

Situations all designers & developers hate:

  • You’re unable to edit type layers in your PSD because you can’t locate the font file you need to¬†install.
  • You want to replace a pixellated layer, but you can’t find the original asset.
  • You are not sure which PSD to use because there is two named final_v1 and final_v1_copy.

1. Organising Folders

To avoid these situations, you need strict rules. The first rule is to stick to a simple folder structure for all projects. Everyone works differently, but here is how I work:

The Client Folder

On the top-level, I have my client folders. Inside them, I have the project folders (e.g. Product Launch or Christmas Sale 2015).

Folder structure for designers - Client

The Project Folder

Inside the project folders, I have two types of folders, Assets and Design Formats. A project might require a few design solutions like a website with an email, so I duplicate and rename the design format folder and name them accordingly.

Folder structure for designers - Projects

The Assets Folder

The Assets folder is where I store briefs, invoices, project plans, images, videos, copy and anything else related to project management.

Folder structure for designers -

The Design Format Folder

This is where all design related files are saved. Only the final PSD is saved in this root folder, all the other files are saved in the relevant subfolders.

Designer folder structure

/Archive

Archive the Old PSDs, old storyboards and old presentation files in here.

File type icons Archive

/Design-Assets

This folder is home to the supporting files like fonts, iconography and linked PSDs.

File type icons Design Assets

/Dev-Assets

This folder is for all the assets needed for development like SVGs, optimised images, videos.

File type icons Dev Assets

/Inspiration

This is for all things inspirational, including mood boards, screenshots, screen recordings and UI patterns.

File type icons Inspiration

/Storyboards

This folder is for all the storyboard or presentation files.

File type icons Storyboard

/UX

This is where I save all my idea generation notes, wireframes, user journeys and user flows.

File type icons UX

2. Naming Your Files

The second rule is to create a very simple naming convention for your files. Name them in a way that is searchable and easy to read. Your abbreviations and terminology will change due to personal preference but something similar to this should help:

Here is an example of a PSD. It includes the client name, project name, format and version:

designer-naming-convention-psd@2x

I name storyboards and screenshots in a similar way with a small addition at the end:

Designers naming convention for files

This practice helps me to quickly find the files I want regardless of the year, format, version or file type. It’s easy to remember and I can comfortably explain a file location without a screen in front of me.

Organising Files Poster

The quantity and variety of work you do will determine how in-depth you organise your folders. Create a diagram of your folder structure, this will serve as a visual reminder to your colleagues and encourage persistence.

If you want to, you can download the folder structure template & icons and make your own diagrams:

Download the Folder Structure Template & Icons

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Erlen is a London-based digital designer with over six years experience working on high-profile commercial campaigns for global brands. He specialises in rich media content and fuses his creativity with code to create innovative advertising solutions. With a background in illustration, his attention to detail and genuine passion for design+code makes Erlen a talent to follow. You can follow Erlen on Twitter.

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