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How to Organize Your Website Files

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In this session we discuss how we organize our file system. We talk about the different lessons where we show how to create a file structure and what file structure we recommend. These lessons are found in the Start Building Your Website Here series and the Customize Thesis Like a Pro series where almost the entire first lesson is about how to manage your file structure, system organization and understanding how that system to relates to various hosting companies.

Video Transcript

About how I organize my file system. Now, to begin with, I’d like to say that I do actually teach this in a variety of places and the first place, under Start Building Your Website Here in Lesson 3 and 4, I talk about how to create the file structure and what file structure I recommend. And then in a more advanced lesson, under Customize Thesis Like a Pro, really, pretty much the entire first lesson, Managing the File Structure is all about a system of organization and understanding the relationship of that system to various hosting companies. And so, I do talk about this subject extensively but I’m going to hit the high spots anyway.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the files that we deal with, especially if you have more than one website, if you have a you know, a bunch of theme files in one place and a bunch of theme files in another place, the problem is that you know, there are thousands and thousands of WordPress files. And in each installation, they’re named exactly the same thing. And so, if you have, like I do, 20 or 30 websites on your local computer files for 20 or 30 websites on your computer or even just 2 or 3, it can be… because all those files are named exactly the same thing, I can be very easy for you to upload or muck with the wrong files. And so, the only way that I know of to address that is to always keep your files organized the first principle of that is always to put them in the same place every time. Don’t ever put your files in any place other than your ordinary file structure. And then you don’t have to wonder whether or not you’ve got the latest files.

And so what I recommend…so that’s the first thing. You need to stay organized. And then the 2nd thing is that what you are trying to do is both be organized and also have your local file structure mirror your remote file structure. And by local and remote, I mean the local file structure are the files on your computer and the remote file structure are the files on your web server. And so you try to make your file structure in your local computer match or mirror what you have on your web server.

And so in my case, you start off with that whole thing by having one folder or one directory on your computer where you keep all your websites. Now, I actually have so many websites – old ones, new ones, WordPress ones, HTML, ASP.net that my files are actually a little bit more complicated than this. I start off with a directory that says websites and then I have a whole bunch of different websites and different elements associated with websites in there. But the majority of the websites that you see referenced in any of my videos are contained under this group, BYOB Website. And in particular, mostly they’re under tutorial sites. And so you can imagine this tutorial sites subfolder as being the main group of websites.

And then from that point on, I have all of… each website has its own directory. So for example, today, we’re going to be talking about… we’re going to be looking at customizing this website called thesis.byobtutorial.com which I set up this morning. And so it has its own directory, thesis.byobtutorial and if you open it up, inside that directory, I want to store everything associated with that website here. And so, I recommend you have a graphics folder, a WordPress folder which is where your website goes, a backup folder and a text folder and any other folders that make sense to you for storing the material that you have that are going to go in this site. So you might have videos, you might have anything else, right? And then you’re just going to organize, you’re going to put the miscellaneous files associated with that site in these various directories or these various folders. The WordPress folder is the folder that should exactly mirror what’s on your website. So if you open up your WordPress folder, in particular, what you should have is a downloads directory and inside this downloads directory, this is where I put any file, any plugins or themes that I happen to download. I store them in here. And then you have the WP content directory. Now, if this doesn’t seem like absolutely automatic to you right now, if you don’t understand exactly what I’m talking about then you need to watch Lesson 4 of the Start Building Your Website Here and then Lesson 1 of the Customize Thesis Like a Pro because this should be absolutely evident to you at this point in your Thesis WordPress existence. But inside of WP content then I have plugins and themes and inside themes, I have my Thesis theme. And then inside of Thesis of course, all the regular Thesis-related files and structure.

And every single website, well every single WordPress website on my hard drive follows this system or something very close to that system. So here’s a really old one, right? I haven’t edited this since January of 2010. If you open it up, here’s WordPress, here’s downloads, WP content, here’s plugins and themes, here’s thesis_16 and thesis_18, right? If you… if instead of that one, you look at say, where’s one I’ve done recently? Well, actually we’re working on Thesis eMember right? Or we just finished working with Thesis eMember. If we go into Thesis eMember, I’ve got a graphics one here. Where did I put my graphics? I’ve got WordPress. Inside of WordPress, I’ve got WP content and themes and thesis_182, so on and so forth. I use exactly the same file structure every single time and that’s what I recommend that you do also so that you can always find your files.

And if there’s some reason why this doesn’t make perfect sense to you then my suggestion is to go and watch Lesson 4 of Start Building Your Website Here and Lesson 1 of the Customize Thesis Like a Pro series and watch those until you understand it because it’s…it’s not particularly difficult but it is absolutely essential to make sure that you’re uploading the right files to the right place and that you understand where all the files that you’re working on actually are sitting.

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