All Posts Name your layers (or styles)!

by: Carrie Silver on Jan 21, 2009

Have you ever had to make changes to someone else’s design file or webpage that uses styles?

As a project manager with a few (rapidly increasing) skills in the land of design I can tell you that it’s tough just getting by. However, the hardest thing I’ve come across recently is trying to take someone else’s designs in any application that uses layers or style sheets and trying to make changes when nothing is named.

It appears that many of the applications that people use like to pick such wonderful names as, “Layer 1” and “Style 4”. Now, if you only have a few of these, it’s not an issue. But, what if you’re working on a Photoshop file with hundreds of layers and trying to edit a button that has 8 layers? Well, if that button was a “Submit” button and all of the pieces of that button were named “submit_...”, i.e. submit_text, submit_background_color, and they’re grouped under a folder called, “submit button” then you’d know what you were looking at and where everything was.

If the layers are called Layer 156 and the background is called #CCCCCC and one is at the top of the list and one is half way through the hundreds of layers, it’s crowded, hard to find, and difficult to fix. Then what happens when you decide you want to change the outline color? All of a sudden you’re magnifying the screen as much as possible so you can right-click and get the layer, then you’re sorting through 5 or 6 layers, all named with nothing meaningful until you find it.

I know, I know, when you’re hard at work, who has time to actually name things?

A few months ago I would have just accepted this as a legitimate response. Now I’ve worked on it myself and you know what? It doesn’t take that long to keep things together. It doesn’t take that long to give layers appropriate names. And in the end, what you’ve produced is clean, makes sense, and can be worked on by someone else if it absolutely comes to that. 

Now, if your goal is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone else so that your job is set for life, then never mind.