Great Catalog Design for the Design Impaired
Can you tell good design from bad? Most people would say “yes.” But for most people it doesn’t really matter, because their jobs don’t depend on being able to tell the difference anyway.
But for you it does matter — a lot. Great design is part of that subtle calculus that can boost or depress your catalog’s sales.
And the reality is, most people can’t tell good design from bad, at least not if we define good design as that which appeals to the most, and offends the fewest, people in a catalog audience.
So if you’re one of the design-impaired, how can you maximize your catalog’s sales using great design?
Simplify, Simplify (Not)
A large agency designed a catalog for a universally known food brand. The catalog was drop-dead gorgeous, printed on paper to die for and in beautiful color. In fact, everything was perfect, right up to the moment where the phones at the contact center were supposed to ring.
I was called in to advise, but they really didn’t need an expert. Most of the pages were filled with white space, huge washes of gorgeous color or fantastic (non-product) images — everything but products for sale.
Such designs can work well in a manufacturer’s line book, but not in consumer sales. The solution would’ve been simple: more product density.
Unfortunately, the angry client just dropped the catalog.
If given a catalog-page layout and asked to improve it, most people instinctively start removing elements from the page. “Too crowded,” they’ll say. Blame it on one of the great artistic movements of the 20th century: simplicity, a rebound from the fussiness of earlier eras.
Unfortunately, barren catalog pages are much like bare store shelves — they may feel peaceful, but they don’t maximize sales.