Most developers fall into creative patterns when architecting a site. The same process is reiterated again and again as each new is started. Not everything on each site is the same, however usually the designer has a pattern they use to create some of the necessary pieces that makeup the overall project.

Wouldn’t it be a time saver to create a sort of base template that has your basic folder set for your site, in addition to a number of common elements that you use or set on each project or find yourself using really often?

As I evaluated my own process, which usually begins with creation of the site’s folder structure as I see it taking shape based on my planning documents. Most often this consists of a resources folder that contains the common elements including the following:

  1. Images
  2. Scripts
  3. Styles
  4. Flash
  5. Includes
  6. XML
  7. Media

These are folders that I use on pretty much every site. Inside these are some files that I also include in nearly every site that I create. For example inside the styles folder there is always a print.css and screen.css file. The screen.css file always uses the Yahoo CSS Reset and sIFR CSS elements, and the file also contains a number of CSS elements that I constantly find myself setting each time I create a project. The scripts file usually always contains the sIFR scripts, and the flash folder usually always contains the sIFR .swf files.

Maybe you would even add in the base files for your choice of CMS packages, so it’s ready to deploy as soon as you move the files into position. There are a million possibilities but the template has to be yours, and it has to be created at the simplest level you can manage.

The main issue is simplicity. Don’t start adding in all sorts of pieces to make the template as robust as possible. You only want to add the elements that you would be using on 90% of your projects. Adding to many elements creates headaches not only for you, but also for the unlucky developer that has to try to weed through your code wondering why you might have included files, images, etc that you haven’t utilized.

Eliminating folder creation and some basic CSS stuff might seem rather mundane, but shaving off an hour or two per project you do can really add up. In fact something as simple as this might save you enough time to throw one or two more projects onto you list at the end of the year, which might be the difference between being in the dreaded red, or making your way into the black.