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22 Comments // Filed in Business / Etc

Organizing Your Project Files

I’m curious as to how people organize their project and client files. My structure is pretty simple; I don’t — currently — use a software system that organizes everything. Right now, I just have folders.

This is how I have it separated:


  • Client/Project Specific folder
    • agreements
    • files
    • invoices
    • comps
  • 2005,2006,2007,2008 (a folder a year)
  • Completed (current year’s completed project files get moved here — at the end of the year, the Completed gets turned into a 2009 folder)


  • huge dump of files that are general use like stock photography and icons; each have their own folder. I also have an EE folder where I place all the general plugins and modules that I’ll probably use with multiple sites

File Naming

I also number my projects and folders with this type of system: 2K9-01 Client Name. The first set of numbers represent the year the project was created, and the second set represents that it’s the first project of 2009. The next part is simply the client name. I also number all files and comps using this system. So, if I was going to send an invoice to this client, it would look like: 2K9-01_client-name_invoice.pdf. A comp would be 2K9-01_homepage_v1.jpg. That is the versioning system I use.

How do you organize your files and systems? Do you use a piece of software? Or are you old-school like me? :)

22 blabs to Organizing Your Project Files

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I got lucky with my system. I was using Studiometry years ago and it gave a number to each client, so I’ve just continued doing that myself.

So I make each folder “0000 Client Name”. I can tell how old the client is by the number which is great. Then I just have two folders: Active and Archive.

Beyond that, I use the same folder system as you for billing, comps, etc.

I’ve read some people say they name the folders by date, but I’ve found as clients come back to me for more work, it’s confusing for me. And, the computer dates the folder anyway by the last time it was updated, so that works well enough for me.

My system is pretty minimal – a Clients folder, then a folder named for each client.

Within that, I have a folder for each project – so “homepage redesign 2009”, “new about page”, and so on – and a folder for Resources. Inside the individual project files, I’ll usually have various folders for different things (“comps”, “new content”, etc.) but they don’t follow any particular naming convention.

If I was doing this full-time I would probably get a bit more organised about this sort of thing. :)

Picture of kat

Name kat

Date Jan 31
08:33 AM

I use this structure:

  • web
    • domain.com
      • live
      • mocks
      • files that client sends

Seems to work so far.
(great site by the way)

Picture of kat

Name kat

Date Jan 31
08:34 AM

hm. for some reason the textile mark up didn’t work.

~ web
—> domain.com
——> live ( mirrored version )
——> mocks
——> files that client sends

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Feb 01
01:22 AM

Hi Kat, thanks for using a bullet list in your comment. Textile did render, I just didn’t have any style applied to it. Works now! And thanks for the kind comment. :)

Hi Lea. My project organization is pretty simplified. I try to keep my folder setup for each project as minimal as possible so that it limits the number of clicks required, while retaining the pertinent information needed when trying to find things later.

When I’m working on a website project I keep a folder called “Source” which contains all of the template and project creation files (PSD’s, stock photos, etc.). Within that folder, I might have a folder named “PSD”, one named “Assets” or “Stock Material” and perhaps one called “Client Supplied”. Usually the “Client Supplied” folder contains text or Word docs the client sends me and photos or whatever else.

After the source folder, I’ve got one titled “www” which is exactly what you’d expect: The website template files themselves in XHTML format. If it’s a CMS website (which nearly all of them are), I keep a folder named “Static” which is the preliminary, sliced and prepared template—then I keep a folder called “cms” or titled with whatever content management system I’m using to get the job done. Although I favor and frequently use CMS Made Simple (cmsmadesimple.org).

After I get those 2 folders out of the way, I keep one titled “Docs”. This folder is a little more open. It might contain client-supplied text docs and also a copy of the proposal, although I have a folder for proposals by themselves. I’m also not in charge of doing the proposals (except for consultation and feedback on them as we get jobs in. I work for a design firm).

That’s pretty much it. If I find that the website is going to be really large, I might make sub-folders based on the material I’ve got. I try not to go more than 3 folders deep though, excluding the initial entry of the main project’s folder.

Picture of Todd

Name Todd

Date Feb 02
01:16 PM

It seems I’m a bit more of a neat-freak than most when It comes to my file structure.

Like most of you my organization begins like this:

clients —> client name —> project name

However, I don’t stop there.

I spend a lot of time browsing through the Finder, so each project’s sub folder begins with a number so they always appear in the proper order.

For a typical web project, my files are usually organised like this:

This includes any RFP’s, and the notes I take when putting the estimate together. It also includes all the correspondence between myself and the client (surveys and questionnaires and such) when creating the project outline / summary


This includes all of the layered files I use when putting a site together

If I’m using a CMS to put a site together or using PHP this folder will sit on my development server

I use Billings for my invoicing, so my invoices are kept in a separate file.


I actually do something similar but only for certain folders that I always want at the top of my list of items. Also, Billings is a great application.

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Feb 02
03:10 PM

This may seem silly, but the numbering system that Todd uses sounds brilliant to me. :o I think that will help with prioritizing my items. This is exactly why I made this post. Great ideas and interesting implementations.

I’m curious about Billings. I downloaded their trial copy but haven’t had the time to plug things in yet. I am horrible at tracking expenses, for example (they are just receipts in a folder until tax time).

Picture of kat

Name kat

Date Feb 02
03:14 PM

I use Billings also. Its a very nice app. I also recently just saw www.invoicemachine.com which is a little cheaper, but its a monthly bill. It has some cool features for paypal integration, notifying clients and such.

If you want a free resource for billing and tracking time, I highly suggest http://paymo.biz/. If you have 3 or less users, you can use it absolutely free. They also added invoicing not too long ago. You can customize your invoices the same way as you would in Billings or any other similar app. Granted the customization isn’t as detailed, but it’s free so you can’t expect all the bells and whistles.

Thanks for the link. I’m really liking what I see :).
Billings looks like a great program but alas, I am using a PC ;).

Picture of Shawn

Name Shawn

Date Feb 06
06:04 PM

I used to keep paper folders and all that, but a couple of years ago I switch to Basecamp for projects, and Blinksale for invoicing. Also, now I use Google Docs for everything else office related.

My poor filing cabinet feels neglected now, so I bestowed him the honor of holding up my printer.

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Feb 07
10:41 AM

Shawn, that’s interesting. I still use a mixture of paper folders and online items. I mean, most project things are on Basecamp, but I like a place to put my signed agreements in and I also feel like I focus more on long requests when they’re printed out on paper as opposed to reading on screen.

I do it old school.

Picture of Corrie

Name Corrie

Date Mar 02
11:40 AM

Lea – my system is similar except that my main directory structure is by client, not project. The projects are subfolders under each client (if there is more than one project per client). I have a separate archive folder, also organized by client, not by date.

On my day job on a engineering company I also deal with thousands of folders. In general, any folder organization strategy is improved combined with a tiny application called Folder Scout (you can find it easily from Google). It gives you instant access on any folder organization scheme, no matter how deep or complex you hierarchy is.

You can also find some Tips & Tricks and Organization Examples at Folder Scout web site.



Picture of John

Name John

Date Jun 24
06:45 AM

Use ADT’s Launcher to organize and keep quick access to your project files. Add files to the launcher. The best thing about the launcher utility is that your files are QUICKLY accessible through ADT’s Global Results window, or the ADT icon at the top of your screen. Thank You

i liked your organizing files way. thinking to improve my one, i just use some like KAT.

My poor filing cabinet feels neglected now, so I bestowed him the honor of holding up my printer.

Great idea for a post Lea! My response started to get a bit long so I’m giving you the edited version and will put full details on my own blog :)

First up though, some questions:

I don’t understand the numbering of the clients folders. How do you remember what number it is and thus where to find it in the list? I think that would slow me down! I just list them alphabetically and archive folders when they are done or dormant. Archiving by year wouldn’t work because again I wouldn’t necessarily remember which year I’d started working with them!

If I did want to know when I first worked with them my bookkeeping application (FreeAgent) would provide that information for me, but I don’t need to know it on a daily basis.

What am I missing here with this numbering scheme?!

Here is just my Client’s folder:

  • Client name (alphabetical)
    • Build (HTML/PHP/etc website files)
    • Content (client delivered text, images etc)
    • Design
    • IA (wireframes etc)
    • Project Management (emails which are mostly ‘to do’ lists, meeting agendas/minutes and hosting info)
    • [Other project] (e.g incase we do some print design for a client too)
    • Quote (holds the quote which is the contract, though I also file a printed and signed copy in a filing cabinet)
Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Jan 25
02:26 PM

I don’t actually have one folder per client because I have repeat clients per year. So, this is part of the reason why I just separate by year. I remember, “Oh yeah, I did that in 2005 or so…” and then I just scan the client name for the year.

Also, I do use Search a lot. :)

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