How to Design a Product Catalog Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-part series dedicated to the design of a product catalog.

Read Part 1: Layout and Functionality

How to Design A Product Catalog: Part 2

A catalog is much more than a collection of product pages. A catalog tells your customer a story about the value of your products and/or services. Every inch of space—from front cover to back and every page in between—must be planned carefully.

Imagine you are setting a banquet table. Every item on the table has a purpose, and each place setting is arranged just so and in its proper spot. Serving bowls and candlesticks complete the presentation to perfection. Your catalog should be the same.

In part 1, I discussed the importance of page layout and functionality. In part 2, I’ll be discussing the section intros and specialty pages.

Section Intros

Catalog section intros work best when they’re right-handed pages. These pages create a natural break in the catalog that allows the reader to easily navigate to the section they want. An intro is used as a guide to the section and is designed to add impact. You can add featured products here or other key information that you would like the reader to know about the products in this section. Also, by adding a “mini index” you can help the reader quickly see what products are included in each section. Again, it’s all about allowing readers to find what they are looking for quickly.

Below are a few of the key elements to keep in mind when designing section intros.

Catalog section intro

Section Title

This is usually at the top of the page and quickly lets the reader know what section of the catalog they’re in, and what types of products are in the section.

Mini Index or Quick Reference

This is a way to quickly let the reader know what products are in the section. At a glance, the reader can see a top-level view of the product groupings and decide if these are the products they are looking for, and if so, easily see what page to find them on.

Featured Products or Key Information

Here’s a way for you to call out “new products” or “hot-selling products”. Simply by featuring them in the section intro, it will allow you to draw individual attention to them, thus highlighting them for the reader. You can also put any key information about the section here (again, it draws attention to the information for the reader).

Impactful Design

You’ll want these pages to stand out from the product pages discussed in part 1. The more impactful you make section intros the better. By making these pages visually appealing you create natural breaks in the catalog that draws the reader to them and allows them to navigate through the catalog with ease.

Specialty Pages

These supporting pages are designed to help break up the product pages and add interest to the catalog as well as educating the reader on industry trends, value-added services, upcoming events, advertising, navigating the catalog, and almost anything that will help educate the reader and make their experience a positive one.

I’ve listed a couple of examples below.

Catalog specialty pages

Educational

These types of specialty pages are designed to help educated the reader about things that are happening in the industry that pertains to the products you are selling— a kind of cross-sell, if you will.

Value-Added Services

Value-added service pages inform the reader about the unique services that your company has to offer.

Upcoming Events

Here’s where you can tell the reader about any special events or trade shows that you’ll be participating in.

Advertising

You can sell ad space to your suppliers, which in turn can help offset some of the cost to create the catalog.

Navigating the Catalog

This page or spread is where you can show the reader “how to” navigate through the catalog. You can show them anything that’s unique to your catalog and help guide them through the book.

If you’re interested in learning more about catalog production, stay tuned for part 3 of our series! I’ll be talking about designing the covers for your catalog.

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