Organize Your Graphic Design Projects’ Files and Folders

Organize Your Graphic Design Files and Folders 

How to Organizing your Graphic Design Files and Folders 


Why Is It Important to Be Organized as a Graphic Designer?

When you are in a designing environment, it is always important for you to be organized.  If you are someone who has had many projects, you know how important it is to be organized.  If you have everything scattered around in different locations, then you will be slowed down tremendously.  This is not good, because the faster you get the job done, the happier the client will be. 
Organizing Your Files and Folders for Graphic Design 

It is critical to be organized when in the middle of a graphic design or web design project.  You do not want to keep everything in your base directory of your website, because this will make it hard to find what you are looking for. And you definitely don’t want to keep everything for a design project on your desktop.  Keeping everything in folders is a must for design success.  When working with images, this gets more complicated, because you need folders, inside folders, and even more inside folders.  Also, make sure to keep all of your original Adobe Photoshop files if you are converting these images to other non-editable file types. You always want to be able to come back to edit your files, and you won’t be able to get your layers back after converting your files to non-editable file types. If you have a few images, then it is ok to have just a single image directory (ie. /images).  When you get into more complicated designs then you need to step it up a bit.  Here is an example of a way to organize your files: 


images/background/back.gif Notice how everything is named accordingly for easy access.  This is very simple knowledge, but not everyone is as organized as they should be. In the “˜Naming Your Files’ section below, we will add on more than just keywords to these file names.  If you are ok with having everything cluttered, that is ok.  But you will have to think about how this will effect you in the future.  What happens if somebody else has to work on your project?  The person(s) taking over will have a hard time finding where everything is. 

All of your projects should be kept in a specific client’s folder. This way you can look for each project easily. Within each client’s folder, there should be subfolders for each specific job that you did for that client. All large scale Adobe Photoshop art is located in a psd folder (or whatever you want to call it) alongside the specific job folders so that it can be used for all projects you do with this client. In other words, the contents of a clients folder might look like this:

Fake Name Company Folder


Naming Your Graphic Design Project Files 

When you are saving your files, you should try to think of keywords that you might use to search for those files at a later time. This way, when it is time to go looking for your precious file, you will be able to tell which file is which by the keywords in the file name. This file should then be followed by an underscore and then consecutive numbers or letters to show which version of the file it is, followed by an underscore and the date. For example:



Organization on your Computer 

Your computer can be a very cluttered place when doing graphic design work.  If you use your computer for other things than business, then it is a good idea to first create a folder just for Business related information.  This will help separate your graphic design work from other items.  Inside your business folder there are many ways for you to organize yourself.  You can create a folder for Logos, Photo Retouching, web development, and other categories.  This will help you organize your work even further.  Within each folder, you can then create another subfolder with your client’s information.

Perfection is hard to achieve on the first try. You do not always get what is needed to be accomplished on the first time.  When you are told to redo something, be sure to keep your original files.  This is in case your client wants to compare your revisions with your first copy.  They can then pick and choose what they want from the original and from the revised document.  This has come in handy many times for myself in the past.

If you want to find out more about organizing your design files and folders read the following suggested articles. 

Author: Matthew Heidenreich


[tags]graphic design, project management, files, folders, organization, organizing files, organizing folders, project files[/tags]

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  1. Christine Hammond
    Posted April 21, 2007 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mathew
    many thanks for the tips on file organising, I am trying to find a management program for graphics that will allow me to move around my desktop with ease. I was watching a designer work on an apple computer and she seemed to have a desktop that allowed her to find everything with ease, im learning and working currently in the advertising protfolio of our company, working with adobe however I am in need of finding files quickly and having multipule files available for time management reasons i have short deadlines to meet. any help you may be able to give would be very much appreciated.

  2. Posted August 11, 2007 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Thanks Matthew,
    I am just starting a Graphic Design business. Your information will help out tremendously in getting me organized from the get-go.

  3. Sambo Pen
    Posted October 22, 2007 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Thank you Matthew!!!
    I’m always care about how to keep my files to use long-term and be organized.

  4. Posted November 9, 2007 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    These blogs are great! I keep my business work on a 500GB external harddrive and i organize it by clients. Great tips.

  5. Posted September 27, 2008 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    does anyone know of a program that will web all of my projects stuff together. For instance…(fonts, photos, text files that contain info related to my project, ai files, eps files, psd files, etc..). My current method is just a structured folder system, but I still have to jump around to find everything. I do know where everything is, but it still takes a lot of time. Instead, I create duplicates of my files and then just place them all into one project folder. This eats up hard drive space un-necessarily though.

    I’ve head about “Mind Mapping” programs, but I don’t think they would work. Maybe I will have to look further into them. If anyone has any advice, please email me. If you’re a designer..go check out the “freebies” page of my website. You will find over 100 mbs of FREE royalty free downloads (high res photos, etc)…no strings attached. Just my way of saying thanks to all who help me out. Here’s the site: http://www.getyourgraphics.com . Thanks. Nice blog by the way.

  6. Posted January 23, 2009 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    It’s kind of general knowledge (imo) but still good for those who might have problems with organising the files. Well organised article

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