Designers frequently need to pull files from old projects when working on new assignments that either require repurposing a past piece, reusing assets from archived files or revising and reprinting a previously produced job.
Given the frequency of having to unearth these docs, it’s in every in-house department’s best interest to speed up the process by creating and implementing an effective system for naming their files. There’s no bigger time-suck for a designer than having to tool around messy servers for a needle in their digital haystack.
Some best business practices regarding file naming conventions are:
- Study how you and your colleagues search for files and make sure to include that in the file name. Do you search by client, project description, project type, date?
- Avoid characters that conflict with the PC platform – your files may be backed up on the PC side and if improperly named would wreak havoc with that system.
- Create abbreviations for often used descriptions such as project types (“bro” for brochure, “tad” for trade ad etc.)
- Test your proposed convention before rolling it out.
- Create an instructional document describing how files should be named for easy reference.
- Follow the convention religiously.
- Expect and allow for evolution.
- Don’t use “final” – this designation often means different things to different people and you can fall into the trap of having a “final_final” or “final_final_final” none of which gives anyone a true idea of which file is the most current. This holds true with dates too if a file is worked on multiple times on the same day.
A typical naming convention includes:
design dept. project number_client_client project number_abbreviated project description (this may include product or service name)_project type_stage of development(comp, mechanical etc.)_version or option_option version
5389_Sales_S395_applejuicelaunch_bro(short for brochure)_comp_A_v1