This project came out of a need to simplify and systematically organize hundreds of thousands of files at a greeting card startup company. I'm including this project because it helps showcase my organizational skills and how I developed a system for maintaining those files with 30+ graphic designers. Specifically, these files were used in a live greeting card editing system. I had to develop a consistent naming convention that would allow a program to pull a file and all its related elements for the user.
A new greeting card company began developing designs for a live editing feature online — a tool web visitors could use to select and edit varying types of greeting cards for purchase. The company hired many designers to achieve this, but the designers were creating files with no clear direction on how to name the files, where to save them, or how to plan for future growth. The workload was all completely new.
I was hired as one of these designers who suggested the following system of organization, and as a result was promoted to overseeing the entire design team.
How The New System Works
1. The Naming Convention
Our goal was to reach a specific amount of greeting card designs per day with varying types of occasions and themes. With 30+ designers, we were able to create a large amount of files every day, so first I had to develop a system for what to name these files so we could easily track them.
Previously, there was no consistency, so designers could name their files whatever made sense, yet not ideal for saving time or organizing. For instance, an invitation for a boy's birthday party would be called "Boy-Birthday-Party-Animals-Invite-withPhotos." This provided most information, but lacked important details about the file that was necessary for management, the printers, and the programmers. From start to finish the following was needed to know from reading the file name:
- What type of card is it (invitation, greeting, announcement, etc.)?
- What category, occasion and theme (holiday, type of holiday, design, etc.) does it belong to?
- Who designed it?
- How many have they designed?
- What kind of product is it if it belongs to a set of matching items?
- Does it include areas for photos?
This clearly couldn't be written out in every file name (though it was at one point), so I developed a system for naming the files using an alphanumeric code. I declared specific abbreviations and stored them for reference so the designers could use them to name the files consistently — and in a way that was usable for the programmers and printers.
2. Making Sense of the File Names
The new file naming system was great for maintaining consistency and holding a lot of information, but obviously wasn't easy to read. For helping to decipher these codes, every department was given a list of codes maintained in a spreadsheet. This is also how I tracked our progress and totals.
During file creation, we needed a process for reviewing designs, approving them, and then providing them to the developers and printers.
3. Organizing on the Server
At various points in the development process, designs had to physically be reviewed and moved according to their approval status. After approval, files were moved into a final destination folder designated for the printers and software team. The development team would use the file names to match items in design sets. By using the first 10 characters in the file name, if a user selected a particular invitation design, its matching elements would automatically be pulled for purchase and printing.
For example, a baby shower announcement for a girl, code ABAGI, designed by designer 4A, number 8 in their quota, would pull these items for the design set:
- ABAGI4A008X2 (Announcement card with two areas for photos)
- ABAGI4A008FO (Matching folded thank you card)
- ABAGI4A008AL (Matching address label)
- ABAGI4A008A7 (Matching A7 envelope for announcement card)
- ABAGI4A008A2 (Matching A2 envelope for thank you card)
Since these alphanumeric codes were referenced in a document, file names could be anything as long as they were recorded in the spreadsheets. This system also allowed for future growth.
Using an alphanumeric file naming system, the company was able to:
- Better organize the 500,000+ design files
- Set clearer goals for specific types of products and designs
- Track product and designer progress
- Utilize product matching by pulling entire design sets (products with matching thank you cards, envelopes, address labels, etc.)