Building an Intuitive Folder Structure

Have you created a folder structure on your computer? If so, you probably created folders and moved files into them either manually or by using a software program. Either way, the next time you looked for a specific file, you needed to determine which folder it was in.

For example, what if you want to send an old file to a friend? If you know the name of the file, you can type it into the search bar. But what if you don’t know its name or your search does not yield results?  You will probably then start searching for it in all your folders. If your folder names and hierarchy make sense, you only need limited information about the file to find it quickly. If not, you might give up because it’s taking too long. 

What if the digital marketing team at your organization needs a specific photograph and there are millions of files within countless folders to search? If your files are in folders with intuitive names within a well-organized hierarchy, you can easily do this.  If not, you will be less productive and cost your organization time and money.

WHY FOLDER STRUCTURE MATTERS

Unlike many tools and processes involved in digital asset management (DAM), folder structures are almost universal. Nearly every DAM platform, software tool, or server system uses some type of folders to organize its files. It makes sense. Folders have been used long before our world went digital. You may remember gigantic file cabinets lining the walls of your office. Now those file cabinets are all digital. They take the form of Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, local hard drives and servers, or a DAM platform. 

This technological upgrade does not make file organization any less important. If your file cabinet is unorganized, it is difficult to find a specific file without sorted and labeled folders? Valuable time is lost looking for files and eventually, the cabinet is a useless waste of space. The same is true for digital file cabinets but the cost is even higher, given the expense to your organization for digital storage.

Our digital file “cabinet” no longer just holds documents. It now includes extremely valuable visual content, design files, marketing and Human Resources materials, and intellectual property. Clearly, properly managing your digital assets and the systems they live within is vital to the success of your organization. 

BENEFITS OF UNDERSTANDABLE FOLDER STRUCTURES

There are three core benefits to implementing a cohesive, understandable, future-focused folder structure to organize your digital assets: 

1) Search

When your digital assets live in intuitively named folders within a well-organized library, you can easily find an old file to send to a friend or a specific photograph needed by the digital marketing team at your organization. This ability saves you time and money and ensures your organization can place its best content in front of consumers to drive revenue. 

2) Unification

If you work for a large brand, different departments may use distinct organizational language and structures. While this is necessary to a degree, if all departments use standardized language and folder structures, it allows easier sharing of files, employee onboarding and transitioning, and eliminates siloing. 

3) Growth

Many marketing teams that experience widespread growth and success are overwhelmed. Rather than increased revenue or expansion of markets being exciting achievements, the resultant change in the number of content and file requests weigh them down.

As the brand grows, so do the problems posed by a lack of clear standards and an organized, future-focused folder structure. It is worthwhile to invest in managing your digital resources to ensure your team can adapt to new expectations. 

BEST PRACTICES

So, where do you start? Below are some best practices for creating a folder structure as we have described it so far. 

Start at the top. The first level of your folder structure is usually the most important. Selecting the right category to start with can be difficult, but we have found that dates or departments (E.g. Sales, Marketing, Operations, etc.) are usually a good place to start.

Determine the right level of specificity.  It is a mistake when creating folder structures to be too general or too specific. If the structure is too specific, it can take several minutes to search; if it’s too general, differentiating groups of assets can be difficult. Take the time to decide what level of specificity is right for your organization.

Draw it out. It is vitally important to visually outline your proposed folder structure. It allows your team to brainstorm more effectively. Once you have decided on your new structure, you can quickly onboard current staff members as well as new hires by sharing the outline with them. There are several great tools like WriteMaps and Creately that make this process easy. 

 

DAM Folder Structure

Test it out. If you are unsure about the effectiveness of your folder structure, give it a test run. Build out an example, place a file deep within it, and ask a potential end-user to find it. Did the search take more or less time than expected? Is it faster than looking for the same file in your current structure? 

Conclusion

Managing your digital files is probably not something you think about very often, but it is vitally important. Organizing your digital assets in folders with intuitive names is the easiest way to revolutionize, unify, and create room for growth in your organization. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help, contact us today!

Ben Owen

Ben Owen

Ben helps to manage growth at Stacks by leading the implementation of strategies, workflows, and efficient processes. He enjoys working with others to find the most effective way to achieve goals and put people in the best position to succeed.

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