Tidiness and organization of files and project folders is an essential part of your job. More and more of our projects are becoming long-term, so this is an important segment for us. This love story is dedicated precisely to that :)
We usually store our project files in project folders on Google Drive. Keep your folders clean and tidy. Old and outdated documents should be archived (filed in an Archive subfolder) to avoid clutter.
Working on local files is a no-no, but there are some situations where we can't avoid this (files are huge/somebody else is also working with it). In that case, you must upload the files later on to Google Drive.
We currently take care of 4 things:
- Project folders (in alignment with PM)
- File tidiness
1. Project folders
- It is up to you to set up the project folder and keep it up to date.
- You are also in charge of maintenance but in collaboration with the PMs. PMs and developers usually may use the Resources folder here and there for documentation. Designers use everything else, so most of the responsibility is yours.
- If the project already exists, in cooperation with the PM, organize it according to the instructions we have outlined.
- 📚 Mandatory reading: Keep It Clean: Project Folder Organization Template
2. File tidiness
If a colleague takes over your project, the naming convention will help them to onboard faster. Here are a couple of pointers:
- Naming screens with numbers makes communication with the client easier. They are necessary if you are using Sketch but not needed if you use Figma.
- Logical page order and page names will keep everyone on the same page. Separate different flows into pages.
- Keep a consistent numbering and naming convention, and grid-align the artboards.
e.g. Client: 01.02 screen is great, but 01.03 is too complicated.
Naming conventions for Pages:
- 00 Onboarding
- 01 Home
- 02 Notifications
- 03 …04 Archive
Naming conventions for Screens:
- 00.01 Splash
- 00.02 Welcome message
Sub-flows will make it easier to locate screens in an extensive feature flow. For example, you'll find a "Checkout" flow more easily if it's highlighted instead of drowned in a complete "Store" flow. Oh, and let it breathe! Visually distance flows for more straightforward navigation through the file.
Symbols (or Master Components) allow you to reuse elements easily across your document's Artboards and Pages so try to use them as often as you can. Bounds are also a must so that the assets of the same type (icons, images) are the same in size, thus making the developers' job a bit easier. Keep symbol names logical and tidy. Use them regularly!
To make our files/projects more organised and consistent, we use an appropriate style guide (web, Android, or iOS - depending on a project). Working with the style guide as you go along with the project will make your life easier later on. We set all the elements in the style guide as symbols, so every change you make will automatically update in the style guide as well. Just so you have an overview of all the things that are, or need to be, included there is a checklist Artboard that needs to be updated/checked as the project moves along. Check out our reusable components chapter for styeguide templates.
Archive and work in progress
Save all versions of your designs; you'll never know when you might revisit a draft or scrap. Put those screens aside for safe-keeping in one of these ways:
- A separate flow (use different color or icon)
- A separate page in the file (Archive page)
- A separate file (include "archive" in the file name)
It's important to highlight those screens somehow. If another designer views your file, they need to know what's not final within a second. Cross out those we are not implementing (or you think that the client will change their mind). The line should have a thicker stroke (〜50px) and Infinum red (you know the red hex code by heart, right? 😃) with 50-70% opacity.
Feel free to leave notes under screens or flows. Sometimes a screen flow can be complicated, decisions questionable, things are happening in the background, and after a few months — you're not sure why you made that decision. Create a note component and help yourself and others after you.
Sometimes we need to update something or add a feature in an old legacy project that no one opened in years. They do not follow our current standards and partially break because of a lack of Sketch backward compatibility. For these projects, we should have a status explanation on the first page. This explanation should have hold information about missing or broken things in the file and the reason for why they can't be fixed (due to a fixed budget, the client didn't want it or some other reason).
When creating new features for a legacy project, follow our current guidelines (create text styles, group flows, use components, etc.).
Figma autosaves all your work and creates versions on its own, but it's not so easy to navigate through auto-generated versions, so make sure you save versions on your own after finishing a specific task or a chunk of work. Versioning in Figma is as easy as it gets; click File → Save to version history and name it in a way that makes sense and is easy to find.
Sketch & Abstract
When working in Sketch for version control, we use Abstract, where we keep design files that we work on and primarily open sketch files from Abstract. Since no software is perfect, you should periodically back up the documents you work on in Abstract to Google Drive (every month or so).
If you have not worked on the project for more than a week, everything should be committed and merged into the master. If there are multiple projects for the same client, it must be clear (visually or textually) which one is the latest version, what is updating and what is stale (outdated).
How to commit on Abstract
- Make sure you commit once a day at a minimum (at the end of the workday).
- Branches should be active for a maximum of 5 days. So, for example, at the end of the week, merge everything to Master.
- If you are working on the same project with other colleagues, sync with them regularly and keep the project neat.
Pro tip: Commit upload can work in the background as you continue to work on the file.
Zeplin & InVision
Ideally, Zeplin and InVision should be a 1:1 replica of your design file (even if all of the screens aren't imported the flow structure should be visible nonetheless). More on exporting in later chapters.
Why all this bureaucracy?
There are no problems while you're working by yourself, but if something comes up while you are on vacation and someone needs to jump in ASAP... Well, that might be a problem. If a colleague doesn't know where everything is, a 15-minute task can quickly become several hours of soul searching and digging. All the latest files should be online in some form (Figma, Abstract or Google Drive).
We support creative clutter, but it's a good idea to do a 15-minute cleanup once a week to keep everything tidy. It would be the best if you did this every day for a few minutes when you're finished with work, or while doing some kind of recap in your head (I understand that sometimes there is no time for that).
Take half an hour on Mondays (schedule it like it's fun) and go through your projects (active ones and those that you think will be active for some time). Clean them up a bit if you haven't already. If that cleanup takes too much time, make a plan and work it out over the upcoming weeks parallel with ongoing tasks.