My number one tip for those who are new to eLearning development is to work really clean – meaning stay organized throughout the process. You’re going to have a ton of files, and you’re going to need to be able to easily access them to make revisions several times during multiple client review cycles. If you didn’t save version 1 of a module (or don’t remember where you saved it), you’ll be in a heap of trouble if your SMEs want to revert back to a portion of it. (Yes, it happens.) Staying organized can seem time-consuming during development, but it’s well worth it in the end.
Here are some quick things you can do to streamline your project organization efforts:
Use a project folder set-up to organize all your development files during each project. Here’s what I do: I use the following naming conventions for my folders [Year_Client_Project]. Within that main folder, I typically have folders for the following: Source, Media, Development, and Published. Within each of those I might have additional folders for things like stock images, stock video, audio, etc. It doesn’t really matter how you set this up. What’s important is that you find a system and stick with it. I personally find that three folder levels seem to be ideal. More levels than that can become a hassle.
Tell Windows to stop auto-creating quick links for you and be deliberate in setting up your own links to your current project folders. This will make it that much faster to navigate to the project folders where you are saving all your files.
Change your browser settings so that you are prompted to choose a location for each and every download. This will get you in the habit of organizing media downloads, emailed attachments, and so much more. It will also save you from the regret of accidentally deleting something important from your downloads folder, after you rage-delete it all when you run out of file space when you’re on a deadline.
Have a backup sync in place (but remember to pause it while publishing). There are a ton of cloud storage solutions to choose from. Ideally, make sure you have one in place. I made this a solid habit only after my toddler son poured water into my laptop, while we were in China, while I was in the middle of developing two large modules. Luckily my Lenovo is still going strong, but lesson learned.
Admittedly, it can be hard to stay organized when you’re always racing the clock. Do what you can, and when you slip up or give up, just go back when you have a breather and clean up. It’s worth it in the end. It's important to continuously learn new skills, techniques, and approaches, but when you're new, focus on a solid foundation including getting organized. Organized file management can be the difference between success and disaster on a tough project.