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Keeping It Tidy

You need to keep your production files somewhere, and if you're working alone, it's all right to keep them within your local copy of the site. If you're working on a team, you might want to find a place that all team members can use, such as a shared network drive. That way, they can do what they need to do and keep the site consistent. It also ensures that the live server doesn't become cluttered in the process. Regardless, whether you're using your local copy of the site or a shared drive, the following points can help you continue good file management after initially implementing it:

  • Create a system for naming your files before you start building the site. This applies whether you're working alone or with a team. If you're working as a team, make sure everyone on the team understands the naming conventions and uses them correctly. Create a document explaining the site structure and naming conventions and make sure that everyone has access to it. This document of standards helps everyone understand how to work on the site without creating a mess.

  • Write down maintenance procedures as you create them. Attempting to figure out how you need to update something is frustrating, even for seasoned Web professionals. The task of producing consistent results becomes much more difficult when you make your teammates guess how they should do things. The techniques of keeping documents and notes aren't only for large, complex sites with lots of people working on them. It can save you, the one‐man band, when you need to get some work done on a site that you haven't worked on in a while.

  • Don't waste precious hosting space on production files. Production files tend to be very large, so they take up a lot of space. Also, Web staff can access anything on your Web server. Files can become inadvertently available to people you don't want having your files, and that can result in unwanted changes (or worse). The best rule is to not post files unless they need to be there.

  • Archive obsolete files. If you're no longer using a graphic on the live site (the published version of the site), remove it from the Web server. It's all right to create an archive on your local or shared network drive, but remove it from the live server. This is especially important for large, complex sites and sites that have multiple people working on them. Make sure that each member of the team knows that she is responsible for archiving the files that she makes obsolete. This is also true for whole sections of the site. If you intend to remove a file (or more) from the site, remove it fully from the server. Make a backup of it so you can recover it if you need to.

  • Create a flexible file structure that can handle your site now and into the future. Most likely, you'll want to add to your site at some point. Make sure you structure your site in a way that makes that easy. Consider how much of a particular type of content you intend to have. If you think you'll have a lot of multimedia elements, put them in a folder together. Start off with subcategories within that folder. It might look and sound strange when you initially launch your site to have a folder with other folders in it for only a few multimedia files, but when you start adding files, you'll see a great benefit in having planned ahead.


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