I hope its okay to ask this around here, was not sure where such a question would fit.

I am not a Graphic Designer, but a mere programmer :) I do have basic knowledge of operating Photoshop (watched a VTC once). Recently I started working with local designers and I have a question about the product they provide. (the PSD files)

When designing graphic for a website / application with multiple pages/screens, the designer will work with layers for each screen, and layers for each object in that screen.

The question would be, is it normal to ask for the design in a single PSD file? or it is better to ask for it in multiple PSD (one for each page?) it makes sense to ask for it in multiple so you can keep the slicing information for each screen, or maybe you can store multiple sets of slices in the same PSD for different sets of layers?

What is the standard for receiving a design?

I am pretty much asking from a customer perspective how to get the most out of the design I am buying and what to ask for so I can make small adjustments myself if required.

  • 2
    As a side note to consider: the specification that requires that you be able to make small adjustments yourself sounds innocent and easy enough, but their skill set is radically different from yours and they ought not be constrained by your limits...
    – horatio
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:14

2 Answers 2

What is the standard for receiving a design?

In 1995, it was to receive a PSD file with 100 layers (the max at the time). You'd then spend your days slicing-and-dicing and building insanely complex tables consisting of 30 chunks of images to make the site layout work. Then they'd change the copy and the table would break and you'd bang your head on the desk and yell at the designers wishing they knew how web sites actually worked and generally just being the grumpy web production team over in the dark corner.

In 2011, the standard is to do away with all of that. Ideally, you're working WITH the designer from day one. As well as the other key team members (UX, Marketing, Content, etc.)

The visual design may be established using a PSD sketch, but it's really just something to look at as you build the actual presentation layer. The process is to go back and forth tweaking things as you go to find that perfect balance of usability, functionality, interaction, visual aesthetics, pragmatic code, and the like.

  • 2
    +1 Concise, thoroughly practical advice from the "Collaborate or Die!" school of real world design that I so wish more people subscribed to. I'm reasonably facile with Photoshop, but I still find it's way faster to just build the darn thing using the sketch as a guide. All that slicing and dicing was costing me too much in Band-Aids and trips to the ER. :-) Dec 24, 2011 at 3:44

You're the one who's using it and commissioning it. Ask for whatever is most convenient for you.

I usually create different files for different screens/pages anyway just because it's easier to keep track of revisions this way.


Even though you asked about Photoshop only, my preferred workflow for this sort of thing is—after designing the inital layout—to isolate each individual layout/UI component into its own PSD, PSB, or AI file. Then I create the mockups for the individual screens in Illustrator based on my wireframes (which are usually in Illustrator as well). And since I've already isolated all the UI components, I can just drop them into the mockup and keep them linked to the source file.

This saves disk space since you only need a single copy of each layout element. It also means you only need to update the source file for your navbar/header/button/whatever to have all of your mockups automatically updated.

It also means less work when it comes time to implement the design in code.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.