Designing a Catalog – How to Make the Most of Your Space

Catalogs are definitely not a one-size-fits-all medium.  What works brilliantly in one catalog may fail miserably in another.  But no matter what you’re selling or who you’re targeting, there are 4 design tips that are universal in making the most of your catalog’s layout.

Show off a certain lifestyle

People don’t buy things because they enjoy spending their hard-earned money.  Instead, they buy things because they want the luxuries that come along with them.  That’s why they buy the skin cream that makes them look 10 years younger, or the clothes that are perfect for a classy night out on the town.

Showcase your products with pictures of happy, smiling, beautiful people that look like they are really enjoying themselves.  Subconsciously, that tells readers that if they buy those products, they will have the same fabulous life that is depicted in the photos.

Incorporate great – not just good – photos

Your catalog’s photos are where you get to showcase each product.  You definitely cannot afford to try and cut costs with the photos! 

When it comes to successful catalog photos, bigger really is better.  Studies show that products with larger photos actually sell better because they draw in customers, show off all the details of a product, and let people know exactly what they can expect if they buy the product.  A large, crisp, detailed picture eliminates the fear that people have of buying something out of a catalog – only to be unpleasantly surprised when the product actually shows up.

Be consistent

When planning your catalog, stick to 2 or 3 classic fonts that are basic and easy to read. Getting too fancy with fonts can be confusing.  You want your pictures to stand out and take center stage.

Placement of text should also be consistent. In catalogs, text comes in second behind photos, but the placing of your text is very important.  What you do for one picture, you need to do for all of them.  For example, if you decide to place the text on the left side of the photo, ¼ inch away, you need to do that for each photo. You do not want a confusing layout to distract from your product.

Print in 16-page increments whenever possible

Since catalogs use high-gloss paper, you will have to use a heatset process on them. Because heatset machines can process 16 pages at a time, you get the most for your money if you print a catalog in 16-page increments.  If it’s not possible to print in 16-page increments, creating catalogs in 8-page increments will be your next best option.