Being a designer means your files are never really YOUR files. Imagine you are working on something, and a colleague/boss asks for your file to grab some assets – “Oh no! My sketch file is a mess!! Will they judge me??” Yes. The answer is yes they will judge you.

If I receive a disorganized file from a designer, I automatically assume they are a disorganized designer. Just like people who have folders and files all over their desktop only says one thing to me – this person must be a psychopath. Not exactly fair, but that’s just how my mind works. If I receive a file from a designer and all the layers are wonderfully named and grouped, I think that designer is a goddess, and I must learn everything she knows.

Files are always being passed around from other designers, developers, and bosses. This constant shuffling is why it’s very important for you to keep your Sketch files beautiful from the very beginning of every project! It’ll also help you work faster and feel more in control of your designs. Here are a few points that will help any designer not get judged by their Sketch file.

Group content


Don’t have layers strewn about all willy nilly – what is this, a mad house? Group related layers together in one folder so you can easily get to the layer you need to work on. It will also make your life much easier when you need to move the group if they are in a folder, versus selecting all the different layers. If I open your file and you have nothing in groups, just layers upon layers upon symbols, I immediately think “what kind of human would do such a thing?”


Name your layers, groups and artboards


When a couple has a child, the first thing they do is give it a name. You should feel this way about your layers, groups, and artboards. Give your babies names! If a group is comprised of the top navigation, go ahead and call it Top Navigation. This will help anyone looking for this to find it quickly and will also help if you are looking for a specific layer when you use the search tool. Say no to “background copy1.” I will judge you on that. Always.


Use symbols for elements that will be used across many artboards


Symbols are Sketch’s answer to Photoshop’s smart objects. Symbols are great for elements like navigation, buttons, and footers that will be used across multiple artboards. Let’s say you wanted to change the background of your footer from white to dark gray. If you made your footer a symbol, you only have to make this change one time: in the symbol. If you didn’t make it a symbol, you will be changing it on all of your artboards which is something no designer has time for.


Get rid of unused Symbols


Sometimes in your sketch files when you are bringing in assets from other sketch files, their symbols are brought in as well. Also, as you go along in your project, you might not need certain symbols anymore. This can lead to an extremely cluttered symbols page which is no good. I found a plugin by Bomber Studios that removes unused symbols, and I LOVE IT. Now you have no excuse for a messy symbol page.


Stick to your grid by using layouts


Not only will fellow designers appreciate your beautiful grid, but your developers will sing your praises from the mountains. If I open your file and there is no grid and elements are not aligned, I will pour coffee on your computer. Here is a great article that quickly shows the different layouts for bootstrap, and here is where you can download a Sketch file that has them all in there. You now have no excuses!


Don’t use half pixels


Just don’t. Enough said.


What tips and tricks do you use to keep your Sketch files in tip top shape? Share them with us on Twitter or Facebook, or write a comment below!

Don’t get judged based on the state of your Sketch file.

Sarah Cottle

Experience Designer @ HomeAway

Category: Resources


  • Love this article! Thanks for posting this Sarah!

    • Hi Julie! I’m glad you liked it 🙂 If you have any tips to keep your files beautiful we’d love to hear them! Sarah

      • For efficient naming, the RenameIt plugin might be of use 🙂

        • Well hello Joseph! I haven’t used Windows in a while, but on Mac you can select the files/folders, hit control+click and choose the option to rename them!

  • Always good to remember if you’re making a lot of groups, holding CMD while clicking will select whatever the cursor is above. That way you don’t have to double or triple click every single shape that’s grouped 🙂

    • Great point! CMD click is a lifesaver! Also setting your folders to ”Toggle click through” is very helpful. I’m all about the shortcuts!

  • gotta love that all or nothing thinking on organization. must be nice to always have time to make everything picture perfect.

    • Hi Brad! I definitely don’t always have time to get my files organized, I will mainly do it on files I know other people will be handling to make it easier on them. Doing it as you go is definitely easier than waiting until the end.

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