February 29, 2012

5 Things Every Web Designer Should Do When Using Photoshop

If you expect another designer to pick up where you left off, or if you want a developer to build a site off your designs, here are a few things to keep in mind before you hand over that PSD file. It's common courtesy, and it doesn't take long to do these steps. It makes the next person's life a whole lot easier.

1. Name your layers appropriately

Don't leave layers as "Layer 1, 2, … , n" or "Shape n". It's a pain to figure out what layer corresponds to what you see visually. You wouldn't want to randomly select layers to see what is selected.

2. Order your layers properly

It doesn't matter whether you're going top down, bottom up, or left to right, but there should be some sort of structure in which the layers are ordered. The Layer 2 should be close to Layer 1 in proximity and not off into space.

3. Organize layers into folders

If your design involves sections like headers, footers, columns etc, group them. Also, name those folders appropriately, don't just leave them as "Group 1, 2, … , n".

4. Delete unused non-visible layers

These could be part of your thought process or part of an old flow, but if it's not part of the final design, get rid of it, or indicate clearly that they should be ignored. Store them in a group like "unused assets" if you think they may be useful later on. Any non-visible layer that does not contribute to the final design just adds confusion.

5. More layers is better than fewer

It's better to have every design element as a separate layer than having a flat layer. What's the point of having a PSD if you're grouping everything together? A developer may want to extract partial elements later on. It's better practice to have more layers. Just group the layers into groups to organize your file.

These are the basic points every designer should follow. There are more, but I'm just highlighting the ones that cause the most frustration.

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