Naming Conventions for Process Optimization

June 16, 2014

Keeping Organized makes most processes easier (find a process that is easier when you are unorganized, it’s a challenge!). How do you establish naming conventions, when are they really important, and how does everyone stay in line with the established conventions.  These challenges often result in a lack of adoption all together.

How do you establish naming conventions

Establishing conventions is a key first step when you are working in group or on a long term project. The process for developing conventions for the first time can be as simple as starting a dictionary with explanations of the terms used, or as complex as developing a specific system for organizational structure. As you get started, it’s important to find some common ground with the various stakeholders. If existing conventions often apply, it is best to start with those conventions, but be sure to define specifically how they are used. Do not ever assume that everyone is on the same page. If no baseline exists, look to the natural communication that already does exist among team members. Often time’s terms and conventions are in place among small groups and they simply need to be documented and laid out for everyone.

When are naming conventions important?

As soon as you have more than a single user or you know a project will span a time frame in which you as a single user may not remember the exact conventions used, you need a formalized naming convention. At its root, a naming convention will keep everyone on the same page and ensure that as over time definitions and process may change, you keep your conventions in place or update them to reflect the required adaptation.

How do we maintain the conventions?

Maintaining convention is a process of repetition. Ensure that you are always working to use the established conventions. As you see other stray from the convention, it is important to evaluate if the conventions need to change or the person or people who are beginning to stray from the convention need help with staying on course.

Examples of Naming Conventions

A great example of where naming conventions are vital to consistency and success is in Google Tag Manager. Within Tag Manager there are some pre-established conventions, particularly in Ecommerce DataLayer properties, and some opportunities to define your own conventions (rule and tag names). Maintaining clean conventions within your tags and rules can help keep you on track. For example, “[Platform] – [Firing Condition] – [Tag Type]”.

This helps anyone logging into Google Tag Manager clearly understand what the tag is, and what it is set to track. It is important to remember that Tag Manager is a shared environment. There will likely be multiple types of users including marketers, IT teams, web developers and outside vendors viewing  your Google Tag Manager configuration. As such, it is always a good idea to make your naming convention easy to read and even easier to search. Going a step further, a great convention is to align tags with their respective firing rules, effectively grouping them. One way to do this is to prepend a numeric value to both the tags and the rules. Doing so makes alignment clear between both aspects. For example “100 – GA Universal – All Pages – GA Pageview”. While the specific numeric value is less important, adding a value and aligning the value to tags and rules also allows for alignment with implementation documents.  Keeping your plans, tags, and rules all in alignment will improve efficiency.