When I start working on a web design project and finish up the home page, I duplicate that PSD file, remove the contents leaving the header and footer, and start working on the next page. I run into problems when I need to make changes to either the header or footer as I would need to go back and make the same changes to the other files. I've tried using smart objects but I find it complicated to make changes as I would like to see how it looks with the rest of the design while I'm making the changes. Is there a better way to go about this?

4 Answers 4


I'd strongly suggest keeping everything in the same PSD and using Layer Comps. Here's a good article on them: http://twosixcode.com/notes/view/how-to-use-photoshop-layer-comps


Other than keeping everything in the same PSD, I can't think of a way. Layer Comps may help for viewing, but if there are changes they won't be much use. You could also use the History snapshots while a document is open.

You may do better to make smart objects of your page content and leave the header/footer as simple layer groups in the PSD. That way those objects will open in their own window. You can then save and see the update reflected in the main PSD.


This is one of the reasons I've been using Illustrator for my comps for the last few years (I know many people here will take issue with that).

If you do prefer Photoshop, try out variables. It's not exactly elegant but you will be able to maintain global items in dedicated files and link out to them.


The better way is to not build all the web pages as files, but instead as code. Barring that, look at using proper wireframing tools like Axure. I'm not a huge fan of Axure, but in terms of managing design documents that will be constantly updated, it's better than PhotoShop.

If you HAVE to keep working this way, then I strongly suggest switching to Fireworks, which is designed for a workflow like this.

(Again, though, consider getting your designs into HTML/CSS/JS sooner than later as it's so much easier to iterate through that than bulky PSDs)

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