Catalog Doctor: Analyze Digests and Slim Jims
Design instincts trained on full-size catalogs won’t translate well to small trim sizes. Slim jims are particularly difficult to design. Catalog designers are accustomed to horizontal, two-page spread formats. Whereas full-size and digest catalogs both open up to a nicely balanced horizontal, slim jims open up to a near square, and cataloging’s science of eye flow and placement is hard to translate into a square format.
But the smaller trim sizes can be great for showcasing products. For example, a digest’s small size allows as few as one product per spread for key products — users can’t miss them. Plus, with twice the page quantity (due to half the trim size), there’s a perception of more products because the user is flipping twice the number of pages.
For big impact, try devoting an entire spread to key products — those that used to get a single page in your full-size catalog.
In digests, one full-page product with two or three small products on the facing page can work well. In slim jims, try copy underneath photos instead of to the side, to take advantage of vertical space.
With slim jims, think of the spread as one “page” and ignore the gutter. That is, don’t shy away from images crossing the gutter, which will help keep skinny pages from looking too cramped.
Make use of color coordination to add interest from spread to spread. It’s easier on digests and slim jims because there are fewer products per spread to coordinate.
Susan J. McIntyre is president of McIntyre Direct, a full-service catalog marketing agency and consulting firm based in Portland, Ore. You can reach her at (503) 286-1400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.