The needs of your organization will likely affect the way you manage your Box account and how you set up the folder taxonomy that is deployed to your team. Box folders are the foundation from which your users work. Defining a folder taxonomy that is intuitive and easy to navigate will greatly increase user adoption and maximize productivity. As you transition into Box, it is important to ensure that poor practices and inefficient workflows from previous content management systems are not repeated.
Here are some questions to consider before designing your Box folder structure:
- Who moves, owns, and maintains the content?
- What root level folders make sense for your org? This is typically based on the departments, regions, or groups using Box.
- Does your organization prefer to give users the ability to create and manage their own top-level folders? Or does your organization prefer to own (and control) all root level folders?
- Do your Admins and co-admins need full access to users' content?
- Are different levels of access needed for users, or are groups appropriate?
- Are there any particular security needs around any of your content?
Folder Structure Basics:
There are two basic Box folder structures to choose from: open folder taxonomy and closed folder taxonomy. The taxonomy you choose is largely based on your internal security protocols and workflows.
Open Folder Taxonomy:
Users can create their own root level folders on the "All Files" page. By default, a user can provision collaborators and freely share files from the folders they own. This option requires less involvement from your administrators. However, the Admin has less visibility into users' content unless the Admin has access to the Content Manager (Business Plus licenses and above).
The open folder structure is ideal for users who need to create and manage individual work spaces on demand, and is often deployed by organizations that don’t require strict IT oversight or handle highly-sensitive information. Private work spaces are most often provided to users working within an open folder structure; users have the option to create a private folder for their own use. The open folder structure is enabled by default unless you've restricted the option in your Admin Console.
Admin Tip: Folder storage only counts against the user who owns the top-level folder (not the collaborators). Be sure to provide the right users with enough storage to meet their needs.
Closed Folder Taxonomy:
Admins will create and own all root level folders on the "All Files" page. Admins will also restrict users from being able to create root level folders or private folders, and users will need to be invited into folders by Admins. This option requires more planning and involvement from the administrative team, but also greatly reduces folder sprawl and adds structure to your content.
Choosing a closed folder structure indicates that the administrative team needs more control of the users and their content. This specific use case will make the administrative team responsible for building out the folder structure, new user creation, and assignment of groups and/or users to folders. This is a common folder structure for larger, enterprise accounts, or where Box is replacing another content management system. To create a Closed Folder Taxonomy, you need to navigate to Admin Console > Enterprise Settings > Content & Sharing tab, and then scroll down to the Content Creation section and check Restrict Content Creation.
Folder Structure Best Practices:
Understanding Box’s folder permissions and collaboration features will help you configure your folder structure so your team can get the most out of Box. See the Folder and Subfolder Permissions article to learn more about Box's waterfall permissions.
1. More restricted content should live at a higher folder level.
You will invite other collaborators and external users further down the folder structure. Because of waterfall permissions, a user's access only flows down to subfolders. Thus, your sensitive, confidential content should be in a folder towards the top of your structure that will remain more private.
2. Ensure naming conventions of folder and files are extremely clear.
Users will be invited in at different folder levels, and that level will appear as their "root folder." Clear, consistent naming conventions will help the user stay oriented in the folder structure and will help with searching for content. For example, being invited to a folder titled "Sales - Corporate Team" is more explanative than the title "Corporate"
3. Keep the structure as flat as possible.
A quick rule of thumb is to not design more than six levels of folders within your structure. A flat folder structure will be more efficient for organizing your content, and less frustrating for your users to navigate through.
4. Every user's "All Files" page will look different depending on the folders they've created and/or the folders they've been invited into.
Reduce the number of folders on the "All Files" page by inviting users into department or team folders. Or, make your users aware of the Favorites page so your users can "favorite" the folders they most often work within, to easily navigate to those folders.
5. Create separate folders for external collaboration.
These can be subfolders under a client folder, or they can be separate root level folders depending on the needs of your organization. Be sure to label all public/external folders appropriately so your users understand that content in those folders will be viewed by third parties.