How to Create a Logical & Manageable Folder Structure

March 1, 2017
2 min read

Introducing a basic way to develop manageable, easy-to-use folder structures

Getting organized always seems like such a chore. I’m sure many of us can still hear the words of our mothers and fathers echo something like, “…there is a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.” In one way or another, we all may have come to understand and believe in those words (or at least try to) and realize getting organized, both personally and professionally has its perks.

When we visit customers and work with them to develop and organize their asset management workflows, the customer is at such a point of frustration when trying to organize their digital assets. Many times, they have just given up and don’t even know where to begin. One mistakes that is commonly made when beginning to build a folder structure is an attempt to implement a high level of granularity rather than just starting at the beginning with just one top tier level folder simply named ‘Current Projects.’ The most efficient way to develop the folder structure is with the use of a pyramid-type folder diagram.


In this example, we will develop folder structure for a Marketing Communications (MarCom) Department. The types of assets in use by MarCom may include: press releases, publicity photos, videos, audio clips, and layout files for print including placed artwork. The key to developing a manageable folder structure is to create a standard structure for each project. So, let’s create the basic folder structure that will house all of our various types of digital media.

This folder structure covers all types of projects that the Marketing Communications Department currently creates including an additional ‘Miscellaneous’ Folder for any special or custom project elements. Creating this basic folder structure will enable consistency throughout projects. Each project team member will be able to create, store, and locate digital assets without having to search multiple locations. This project folder “template” should be stored in a central location that houses digital assets. As new projects are created, simply copy and paste the folder structure to the appropriate location on your file server, change the “Project Name” folder to the name of your project. Now you have a manageable folder structure.

It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter if digital assets don’t yet reside in each and every one of the folders. When a project is brand new, it is generally in the “planning phase,” which means you are “planning” for the development of the project. And if your clients are anything like mine, the project will grow and take on a life of its own during the creative process. Let’s take a look at the digital asset folder structure that MarCom has created for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Project.

As the project grows, the folder structure expands to accommodate all of the various elements of the project, but the topmost level folder structure does not change. The project folder name has been changed to Chicago 2016 and second tier folders have been added to the Print folder. Additional tier folders have been added to Images, while individual digital files have been added to the first level folders of Audio, Press Releases and Video.

Remember, the way to be successful in managing your folder structure is to be consistent in your architecture and don’t try to create everything at once. Your project’s folder structure will grow right along with your project. With these tips, you are well on your way to creating a logical and manageable folder structure.

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