At C2, much of my time is focused on helping clients create and sustain CMS-powered websites. When creating manageable back-end systems, I’ve found a few basic tips can go a long way including organized folder structures and proper file naming conventions.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE AN ORGANIZED FOLDER?
Establishing a folder structure should always be the first step to organizing your website management system. Folders should be named in a way that’s descriptive enough to let you know what you’ll find inside, but not too detailed that they are too long.
For instance, top-level folders structure could include:
- Site Admin: This folder would contain top level content/pages - Site Controller (header, footer, site wide navigation), Homepage, Sitemap, 404 error page, etc.
- Page Content: This folder would be organized by category. Let’s say the site features products and services. The top-level could be “Products” with categories below it for Home, Health, Travel, etc., and each of those categories could be broken down further depending on the number of levels required.
(Pages > Products > Home > Kitchen > Small Appliances)
- Widget Content: This folder would be organized by category/section.
- Site Assets: This folder would be for images, PDFs, etc. and have categories below each of the asset types.
(Site Assets > Images > Home > Kitchen > Small Appliances)
If you need a more detailed folder structure, consider adding the brand name (Site Assets > Images > Home > Kitchen > Small Appliances > Brand A). This will allow you to organize individual products by brand so you know that all of the “Brand A” products are in the small appliances folder. It’s a descriptive, expected pattern that not only makes the assets easy to identify, but also sets an example for other content managers in producing additional assets.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Having a similar plan in place for file naming will allow for simple updates to your site. When executed properly, file naming conventions can organize your content into a predictable pattern while providing essential details at a glance.
Let’s build upon the Small Appliances example above. Instead of throwing your files into a virtual CMS “junk drawer”, I suggest a simple naming convention such as CoffeeMaker_banner.png, CoffeeMaker_detail.png, CoffeeMaker_thumb.png, etc. These images would be placed under Site Assets > Images > Home > Kitchen > Small Appliances.
Consistency and predictability is essential to establishing organized folder structure and file naming conventions in a CMS. Taking the time up front to set up a good structure can save time, money, and headaches later for you and your company. Whether you are shaping a site with a large selection of products or a university with a lot of academic departments/locations, organizing your content is imperative.
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