My Biggest Design Pet Peeve


I have a poster in my bedroom at my parents house that has a kitten sitting in a paint can with paint on its nose and reads “I’m not messy, I’m creative.” This quote makes me smile every time because it is so true. While I do try to stay fairly organized, there are some things that I like to call organized chaos. It looks messy but I know where everything is. But everyone, even messy creatives, have pet peeves--things that drive them crazy. As a designer, there are many things that annoy me like using Comic Sans or Papyrus in inappropriate text situations. However, my biggest design pet peeve is actually about the one place where I keep things super organized: the layers panel in Photoshop or Illustrator. Keeping your layers labeled and organized not only helps anyone else that has to use your Photoshop or Illustrator file, but can help you when you have to make changes to the file later on.


As a designer, there are many things that annoy me. But my biggest design pet peeve is not keeping the layers panel in Photoshop or Illustrator organized.

Some tips for organizing your layers…


Use layer folders/groups

Group together any layers that make up different elements of the design. Then label the folder with the name of the design element.


Delete unused layers or folders

If there are any layers or folders that were accidentally created or you deleted all the elements from it, delete the empty layer or folder so you don’t have extra layers cluttering up the layers panel.


Rename Smart Objects or any image layers

Change the name of layers so that when you are skimming your layers panel, you can easily find what you are looking for.


Order layers and folders from top to bottom of design (as best you can)

As you move down the design, you can follow along in the layers panel. Sometimes layers have to be arranged in a certain order for elements to be in the right order on the design, but in general, order them from top to bottom.


Illustrator guides in own layer

If you are using guides, put them all in one layer and lock it so you won’t move them around when working on the rest of your design.


Want more Illustrator Tips? Check out my post about my top 5 favorite Illustrator Tools.


Ultimately, make it easy for someone else to navigate your design

Even if you are the only one using the file, having it organized from the beginning will make later changes more efficient. Searching through tons of layers just slows you down and is frustrating.


What is your design pet peeve?