in Misc

Become A More Organized Graphic Designer

Credits: Benjamin Linh

So you decided you want to become a graphic designer. The job is great, the projects can be super interesting, you can work in an awesome environment surrounded with great people and let`s face it: the salary can be big.

What do you need to know is that when working as a graphic designer, it`s very important to get organized. If you don`t organize your work, then there`s a high probability that your design will suffer. You can`t afford to lost things, forget design tasks or client requests. This can be especially difficult for freelancers, who often handle all aspects of their business.

If you plan to work as a freelancer, don`t forget that you also must take care of finances, emails, phone calls, customer meetings and so on. All of these are part of getting and staying organized. Fortunately, there are ways to get organized ranging from simple tricks to helpful software.

For example, if you want that all of your tasks, files, and leads to be stored in one place, with reminders for you or your staff you can use some apps like: Project Management Software for managing your projects, time tracking software, billing software to create estimates and send invoices, basecamp software to share files, chat and remember tasks, and so on.

Organize Your Files

Credits: Patrick Ng

Organizing your projects must have a high priority because a great deal of time can be wasted searching for files that are essential to your business. If you want to get organized, the first step is to organize your files.

Organizing your graphic design files

Every graphic designer hopes that he will have more than one projects. Let`s say you hope the same think, ok? So, as you will take on more and more projects, organizing the files related to projects becomes very important. Don`t trow away old designs or old concepts because this things can prove to be important elements in new projects.

The first thing you should do is to choose a consistent method for naming files and stick to it. You must choose clear names for files that describe them, so they are easily search-able. As a tip, name files with version numbers so it is clear what is the most recent revision. You don`t want to open a billion of .psd`s just to find the newest one. When the work is done, it is a good idea to use words like “final” or “done” to easily access them.

For example:
Do: home_layout_v3.psd
Do: home_layout_final.pdf
Don’t: postcard_new.psd
Don’t: postcard_new_new.psd
Don’t: postcard_new_super_new.psd

Besides well-named files, keep a consistent folder structure. For example, organize them by date: year\month\individual projects. Other options include organizing by client or by type of project (such as web vs. print). Projects should be kept in clearly labeled folders, with sub-folders for the various components. For example, keep sub-folders for stock photos, layered Photoshop files, exported PDFs, and one for all of the final files.

For example:

Do: 2011 > March > Home_Layout > Final > files
Do: Print > Clients > Home_Layout > Home_Layout_Menu > Photos > files

The golden rule: Back up you files. Always

You can have the most optimized file system or the best naming method…if you lose them or if they get corrupted, then you can have serious problems. All files, especially those that are crucial to your business, should be backed up regularly. Use CD`s, DVD`s or for a more consistent backup, use an external hard drive and an automated software to back up you files every day.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.