How Dropbox helps designers have the latest design assets
Product designers know that the key to creating the best work is always staying in sync. Every team member should be able to find the information about the project they need when they need it, and the information should also be up to date.
But modern design projects can be extremely complex. With so many different design artifacts produced by a product team on a daily basis and so many different people working on a project simultaneously, the task of keeping everything in sync might be really challenging. All too often design assets and essential information are siloed. Finding required information means searching a few different places. Even when a team member finds a content, they might wonder whether it is up to date or not.
No wonder that file management is quickly becoming one of the most critical tasks for product teams. Effective file management process guarantees that all product team members have access to the most up-to-date assets. In this article, we’ll describe the basic requirements for good file management and see how Dropbox makes it easier for all team members have the latest version of the design at their disposal.
How product teams solve the problem of file management today
If you ask developers “How to make sure all team members have the latest version of codebase?” most probably you’ll hear “Use the version-control system (VCS) for that.” Some product teams follow the same approach for managing design artifacts. As a result, both codebase and design artifacts are managed using VCS.
While this approach might look good for the first glance it has three significant downsides:
- The problem of storage space and speed of downloading. Code is text, and text doesn’t weight too much. Thus, it’s profitable to store codebase in VCS. But once you start having gigabytes of design assets in VCS this is where things start to get tricky. Not only the process of downloading will take more time, but it’ll also require additional space on local hard drives.
- Designers will need to learn how to use VCS. Designers will need to memorize the commands for downloading and uploading files and follow a particular process for file management (for example, learn how to merge the files and follow it each time when they need to update the design files). The extra time designers need to spend on learning the tool doesn’t create a positive experience.
- Designers might easily forget to update the local repository. Not all designers remember that they need to pull the latest resources before starting the work. As a result, many designers end up using previous versions of artifacts instead of taking advantage of the most recent updates. It can lead to unnecessary reworks that cost precious time and money.
Basic requirements for proper file management
Let’s define a set of requirements for a good file management tool:
- Easy to start using a tool. The tool should have a low entry barrier. Designers don’t have to learn and memorize any special rules or commands.
- Less manual operations, more automation. Routine operations such as a process of update for design assets should happen in the background so it won’t require extra effort from the designers.
- Manage permission. It should be possible to limit the number of people who can make changes to the design artifacts. For example, a design team can have full read/write access while developers can only have read access.
- Easy to share the work with clients. No need to install any apps/plugins to preview a design. It should be possible to share a direct link to a design resource.
How Dropbox helps designers
Dropbox handles the task of making sure that all team members have the most up-to-date design files on their devices.
Ease of use
For any tool to succeed, it needs to be effectively embraced by all members of the team. It happens only when all team members enjoy using a product.
The great thing about Dropbox is that no special onboarding required. Team member simply joins a folder, and the files are there.
Break down silos
Dropbox helps you to create a central location for all your content. Collaboration becomes much easier when all important information is centralized.
As a project manager, all you need to do is to decide and create the folder structure you want. It’s recommended to create a separate directory with a particular structure for each new project you work on. Here is an example of a directory structure you can use:
- Masterfiles. Vector files (.sketch, .psd, .ai, etc.)
- Assets. This folder usually contains assets provided by the client (logos, brand colors, illustrations, fonts, icons, etc)
- Deliverables. This directory contains design deliverables ready for handoff for developers.
- Preview. In this directory, you can store design resources that you can share with clients.
If you work on a product redesign, you can have another directory called Screenshots which will contain screenshots of a product before and after the redesign. The information in this direction will help designers to document the process, and it’ll be very useful for case studies/portfolio presentations.
Files sync happens automatically
‘Is this the latest design?’ is quite a common question among product designers. Searching a dozen of different locations in the attempt to find the latest design artifact isn’t the most enjoyable experience.
With Dropbox, you’ll never ask ‘Is this the latest?’ again because newly created or updated files are synced automatically on all devices, and you don’t have to spend any time searching the latest revision of your design.
This feature is incredibly useful when designers on the go. A designer can grab a mobile phone with the Dropbox app, and in just a moment she can present her design asset to other people.
Sync across devices and platforms
It’s quite a common situation when designers work on Mac and developers work on Windows. Transferring design assets between two platforms might be problematic. But it won’t be a problem if you use Dropbox. Syncing is available on multiple devices and platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
Knowing files are always backed up is extremely important for all design teams. With Dropbox, you don’t need to worry about losing important information — the tool backups all the data. Even if files are accidentally deleted, they can be recovered in an instant. Earlier versions of your files are backed up for 30 days for regular Dropbox users and up to 120 days for Dropbox Business and Dropbox Professional users.
Share your work with clients
Each design process begins with customers, and the only way to create a great product is to keep clients into your design process from the very beginning until the end. That’s why establishing a proper communication channel with your clients is an essential part of design process.
Dropbox makes it easier to share the work with the client. Each time when you want to get feedback from your client, just copy the link with your asset and sent it to your customer.
With Dropbox, you can take your computer offline, and you still have your files right with you — all of our files stay synchronized and available to whoever needs them.
Dropbox Smart sync
The problem of storage space that was mentioned at the beginning of this article can be a huge issue for some designers. When designers work on a lot of different projects simultaneously, having design assets of all projects on a local machine can be a problem — you can face a problem of lack of space. As a result, in order to clean up space, you’ll switch from your design activities to file management.
Dropbox Smart Sync is a Dropbox feature that helps designers save space on their hard drives. With Smart Sync, designers free up precious hard drive space by sending files to the cloud. As a user, you still will be able to view every folder and file from the directory, even though they’ll take up virtually no space. But once you open a file, it will automatically sync to your hard drive — but only when you need it.
Product teams not only create products but they also establish design processes. It’s vital to remove any technical barriers from the creative process — design process should make it easier for designers to focus on what’s really important — crafting a great design. That’s why it so important to invest in tools that help product teams achieve this goal.
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.