When we think of the importance of the design process we remind ourselves that you only make a first impression once, and that it’s essential to think differently in order to differentiate. The same can be said of the formatting decisions that we make, which can help to make the finished article highly impactful – which is exactly what we’re looking for.
Let’s begin with the fundamental choice of how big we want the catalogue to be. To some extent, of course, this will be determined by the amount and type of content, but there are other considerations too. If we have lots of copy and/or large photographs, we’ll necessarily be driven down the path of a larger catalogue (A4 or perhaps even larger). But we might want something smaller (A5?) but thicker, depending upon how we see it used, where we see it stored, and how we get it distributed.
One of the well-established facts about the enduring popularity of the printed catalogue is that it is tactile – the reader picks it up, touches it, feels it, and (ideally) feels inclined to keep it reasonably close to hand (or to the computer!). So clearly it’s important that its tactile quality encourages them to do that, and this is where decisions like what grade and thickness of paper and/or card to use, whether the finish is gloss or matt or silk, whether it is laminated, all have a part to play. Glossy may be better for superb rendition of images, matt for text, or silk for the best of both worlds.
In addition to these more fundamental decisions, think carefully about how you want your customers to navigate around the catalogue. Dividing it into sections using tabs and/or colour can be extremely effective, as can the use of thumb cut-outs. All the time you want to be making it easy for your customer to find not only what he or he is looking for but what they ought to be looking for …
Finally, think about dating it, perhaps with a season or version or edition number. This can help to ensure the customer is looking at the most up-to-date version, assist them to find specific products, and increase its shelf life.