Naming Conventions – UX Planet
What is your excuse for not using one?
- The almighty hassle
- The utopic statement
- What is a Naming Convention after all?
- Why to use it in Design? (Pros & Cons)
- A Naming Convention example (clickable prototype)
The almighty hassle
We, designers, have all experienced this nightmare (at least once) in our career:
Not to mention lost files due to various reasons like:
- Lack of a backed up saving environment;
- Damaged, lost or stolen laptops containing locally saved projects;
- Manually deleted content because the folder names suggested they are unimportant (lack of semantically named content).
The utopic statement
Work as if you’ll die tomorrow and leave no room for misinterpretation in your deliverables.
It’s one of the few fundamental principles that guided my work so far. Using a File Naming Convention is one of the best things you can do to achieve it.
What is a Naming Convention after all?
According to Purdue University:
“A File Naming Convention (FNC) is a framework for naming your files in a way that describes what they contain and how they relate to other files.”
They also give us some hints on the advantages of using one:
“A FNC can help you stay organized by making it easy to identify the files that contain the information that you are looking for just from its title and by grouping files that contain similar information close together. A good FNC can also help others better understand and navigate through your work.”
Why to use it in Design?
Some may say that using a Naming Convention is outdated or time consuming, others may not consider it attention worthy. Perhaps a quick analysis of pros and cons would throw more light on this dark corner of our daily work.
The pros & cons below are marked with the premise that your team will adopt a centralized saving policy on a joint server or via cloud storage.
- It gets you used with order and discipline and you will work faster as the struggle for “writing” and “reading” your archives is minimized.
- Clarity, better scalability and smoother teamwork, as the game rules are precisely established. Also, you will be able to formalize a better set of rules than the classic “there are no rules”.
- Increased team efficiency: everything is centralized in one place. Easier access control for various user roles within your team or company.
- Standardized way of working within a department, decreased dependency on individual subjectivity per (lack of) naming systems.
- Easier pseudo-versioning by filename (appended with “v01”), because alphabetical order becomes chronological order as well. This item becomes partially deprecated if you’re using a versioning solution (ex. Abstract or Plant for Sketch; or Figma which has built in version control).
- Accessible version control and backup options, regardless if it’s done locally or via a cloud storage service.
- Improved maintenance. Comfortable batch rename and file transfer options.
- Better readability of the folder structure due the semantic folder names. This way the folders are searchable by meaningful terms.
- Time proof. You will be able to come back at anytime and find a familiar structure. Less time spent on discovery as expectations are rooted to reality.
- Clearer hand off, regardless it’s for new/current colleagues or other departments. Your work is “written” in a familiar language for everyone.
- Zero costs! It’s for free and always will be. No fancy apps involved.
- Don’t forget that this is a marker of your seniority.
- It’s a time consuming operation. Yes, it requires some more attention and time when creating/saving files. Once you get used to it, this amount of time required for your “special attention” will eventually disappear. The advantage of earned time is measurable afterwards, when you need to deal with those well arranged files.
- It kills the creative process. Later struggles with chaotic structures does the same thing. It’s all about how quickly you can assimilate such a habit in your daily routine. It’s better to fend possible future bottlenecks rather than neglect them.
- You don’t need this! You did it well before without any formal rule for storing your active and archived works. Are you sure about that? Supposing you need some files from a project you completed a couple of years ago, how much time and nerves do you need to find them?
A Naming Convention example
…that works perfectly for me on UI and UX projects since the beginnings of my career. It is a continuously evolving system, based on various contexts while keeping the same logic at its core.
The system below is using the default 1–9, A-Z sorting of the Operation Systems. Check it out ⬇
Thanks for reading,
see you later!