No, I’m not talking about including your keywords in your files names, though that is a worthy subject for a blog post. I’m talking about the designer being organized enough for someone else to make sense of their photoshop layers. How is that marketing you say? Let me explain.
Shawn Borsky recently wrote a really good article covering the basics of design that help the designer excel and shine. One of his suggestions is that we stay organized in our naming conventions and organization.
Stop and think about this for a minute. Who is ever going to see your PSDs? You typically send a flattened jpg or png to the client or if you are really serious about your image you present it to your client in person printed in high res and mounted on mat board. You don’t show them your PSDs. You will see your own files again some day down the road when you need to make a design change but don’t remember what you named the layer containing the clients logo. Quite possibly the developer who takes your design and HTMLizes it will see the PSD but the client’s decision maker isn’t going to see them. Or will they?
I’ve spent a lot of time working in both roles, designer and developer. As a developer there have been numerous occasions where the decision maker has come to me and asked “What do you think of these guys?” And usually I just answer without giving it much thought. I base my answer not on how the designer has been able to handle them self in meetings and conversations, I judge by how easy they are to work with and how well they get the job done. I have received PSDs with 20MB of layers that aren’t even being used. That’s not saving me any time because it’s hard to tell at a glance which layers are really needed because they are named “layer 57” and “copy of vector smart object”. The time spent sorting out the layers and figuring out what is supposed to be there can really add up if the designer hasn’t taken the time. No one knows the file like the original designer so it takes the designer a fraction of the time it would take the developer just to figure it out. I have also received files where the layers are organized into folders and cleanly labeled. It’s rare, but where it happens it’s a breath of fresh air.
So I respond to the decision maker, “Oh, these guys over at this agency really have their act together. They are worth twice what we are paying them.” And typically I have worked with decision makers that know when to take the developers advice. They base 80% of their decision on my advice. The organized designer gets the job, the raise, the additional contract.
Then in the last few years there have been the times that I have been the decision maker. I always ask for the PSDs because I am looking for good designers with which to form long lasting relationships. There’s a lot more to it than just having your files organized. Organizing bad work doesn’t make for a good designer. But a good designer can often lose the bid if I can find one that is almost as good but keeps things organized.
So in a way, your organization skills are your marketing. Any time you create an advocate within your client’s organization you have your marketing taken care of for you. It’s word of mouth, only better.