Why force folders to sort? Whether you like it or not, Microsoft Outlook imposes sorting on FileSite’s folders: an alpha-numeric sorted order.
The sorting order is a design point for document management systems: I’ve incorporated it in Cersys DMS tune-ups and deployments for almost five years now, and I’ve been using it in email and network folders for much longer.
Consciously manipulating something’s location in an alphabetic list is not a new or unique idea – take the classic telephone-book listings like AAA Best Taxi.
Keep reading to see particular design aspects to consider.
The business reason – to appear at the top of the phone list – gets carried across in the design of workspaces in iManage WorkSite. It is most convenient to refer to items at the top of the list, whether you are choosing a taxi company or an email filing folder. There are additional reasons to manipulate names of folders into a position within a workspace:
Here is the general ordering as imposed on FileSite by Outlook.
If you only ever have nine-or-fewer top level folders, single-digit numeric prefixes work nicely. To save horizontal space, use only one space to separate the prefix from the rest of the name.
If the folders may get into double-digits, be forewarned that numbers do not sort based on their numeric value. Instead the prefix is strictly alphebetized – e.g. these numeric prefixes sort as follows. As you can see, a leading zero provides a more numeric-looking sort.
Using standard numeric prefixes may break down as a system if your firm has any optional top-level folders. Say there are folders used only by litigation, or IP: perhaps you assign separate numeric ranges of prefixes. However, this breaks down the clean 1 2 3 4 5 look, instead leaving gaps such as 01 02 03 31 32 55 56. Alternatively, you have two folders prefixed with the same number? Also an unattractive result
When designing folder names for network shares, there are more restrictions. But even with iManage, I recommend that you don’t use the asterisk * as a prefix… because it’s a wildcard and therefore too hard to use as a search criterion.
Use anything except for the following “reserved characters”:
< (less than)
> (greater than)
” (double quote)
/ (forward slash)
| (vertical bar or pipe)
? (question mark)
So “tilde” ~ works, as does “octothorpe” #, “dollar sign” $, etc. (based on Naming a Top File or Folder | SlawTips.)