If you are a designer or a developer you probably have either sent off a .psd file or received one that was indecipherable. Vague layer names (or worse, default layer names) make it difficult for those who were not part of the creation of the file figure out what is going on. A little effort when creating a file can help save time later down the line when the developer or another designer get to work on the file. Here are 10 tips to keep everyone happy and on the same page.
1. Name Your Layers.
Yes, it does take time and maybe it's not your habit as a designer. If you are working with others it should be. No one knows what "Layer 5" is. "Sidebar background" is much more descriptive and will save others the time of sorting through your layers of mystery.
2. Use Groups
Photoshop lets you group layers of similar content. Try grouping your sidebar, header, footer, or any other content that makes sense. This can not only keep you organized but save time as you can apply changes to all layers in a group.
3. Use File Name Conventions
It doesn't matter what the file naming conventions are, so long as everyone on a team knows what they are and uses them. If there aren't any conventions currently in use, do everyone a favor and be descriptive with your file names. "NewLayout" all too quickly becomes newlayout1, newlayout2, etc. Adding the date to the file name or a revision number helps keep your drafts and versions easily recognized. projectname_date, projectname_revisionNumber, or projectname_size_date all might be good naming conventions.
4. Keep Your Originals
Designs change. You never know when you might want that original image, or other asset. Be sure to note that they are originals as well, either in the file name or in a completely separate folder.
5. Organize the Unused Assets
They end up in nearly every design project, those assets that you thought were perfect but didn't make the cut. You might want them again, or you might not. Don't leave them languishing where they aren't needed. Round them up and keep them in their own group so you or anyone else working on the project knows they are not in use.
Proof-read, proof-read, proof-read! Get others to help proof-read and catch all the typos. Don't wait to catch a typo after the design has gone to print, or it's live on a site.
7. Know Your Resources
Know what resources were used, and their usage rights. No Google Image searches! Make sure all of the assets used can be used.
8. Be Consistent
Ensure that all design elements are in keeping with other branding elements. From colors to fonts, make sure the colors and fonts are the same.
9. Save for Web
Save for web is your friend! Yes, image size does matter and save for web makes it easy to save your images to get the best compromise between quality and size.
10. Organize the Assets
Put all of the assets used in the design in an easy to find location, preferably near the .psd. Save time hunting for assets and keep it organized.
It can be a pain to organize your work, especially if you are not used to it, but it will ultimately save time and effort in the long run. Not to mention make the lives of any other developers or designers working on the project with you much easier. Do you have any other Photoshop Etiquette tips? Share them in the comments.