Traditional catalog creation process

Designing a product catalog is a great way to reach out to new customers and win new business. Having said that, a catalog that is both cohesive, all-encompassing and visually appealing is hard to create and maintain. This is when you will likely have to subcontract a designer to do the job for you. From giving out complex instructions to proofreading, you will have to do it all. Let’s dig deeper into this process and how to go about it.

101 of the typical catalog design process

(with really years of experience on the market, in different product manufacturer companies).


  • yearly edited
  • all / as much products you can fit inside
  • one catalog for all customers
  • thick, printed, costly = prepared months in advance

Having a product catalog designed for your company usually involves:

1. Hiring An External Designer

prodalist catalog accessoriesAn external designer can be hired from any freelance websites or you could choose to hire a professional organization to do it for you. Usually, such groups are made up of graphic designing artists, writers, and photographers. Choosing the right team is of the essence, after all, your catalog is going to be the face of your company. You certainly don’t want someone inexperienced to do it for you. So, careful research is needed.

Make it a point to check your prospective designer’s previous work, if possible not draft & ideas, but final printed catalog

Tip: clearly agree if they handle the further printing process (less errors, full responsability of the final product), if no handled by you. If you provide or impose the printer, make sure the communicate & go well together before your final decision

2. Giving out Instructions

Prerequisit: you must first know what you want/need – or get the agency’s advices (but insure they have more commercial/marketing experience that you or use then as a fresh look, which is always good, but then you have to filter)

As a responsible business owner, you will need to make sure that the catalog is tailor-made to suit your needs. Designers will tout plenty of “surefire” presets that dozens of your competitors might have used, but in reality, staying true to your branding scheme and uniqueness will serve you better. Get your marketing team together and sit down for a discussion and come up with a great design. Now, pass on these instructions to your subcontractor to implement. Have them work at it until they get it right.

Tip: we hear continuisly companies saying that that at the end they wrote 99% of the content of the catalog for the subcontractor OR that they made typo errors that you would never have done … but honestly … you will not avoid that. Don’t expect them to know better your products than you. The raw content will be provided by you in a shape or another.

3. Review the prototype

Depending on the agreement, your subcontractor will come up with one or various prototypes. Usually several designs are provided only if the scape is a page or two (without prodalist solution, it’s very hard to provide several complete catalog samples)

Tip: a subcontractor is working against time; a lot will push to come back only once to you with a finished catalogs -too late for big changes-. Be very clear upfront on a different cooperation process.

This where you’ll need to put on your thinking caps and reading glasses. Carefully look at the design of the catalog – from the front cover to the very end. Does it match your company’s branding scheme? What about the content – is it crisp and organic? Having great content matters since it serves as your business pitch. If it’s not persuasive enough, you might miss out on potential business.prodalist happy customers

Have a different look:

  • turn it upside down
  • look at it from far away! What do you see ? what does catch our attention ? …
  • look at it with eyelids almost closed; you’ll notice that you now see almost in B&W. How do your graphics now look ?
  • show it to anyone that does NOT know you, nor your products & get their first comments
  • what happens if some pages are torn ? Is your company & contact still there ?

would you buy from that catalog (if it was not yours) ?

3b. … get a second opinion!

Since your catalog will serve you throughout the year, it’s always best to get as many opinions as you can. Don’t just stick to the big guys, email a copy to all of your employees and have them review it. If possible, email all the prototypes and have a poll to pick the best among them. Once you’ve decided on the final design, do a final review and send it away for printing.

And because once out for printing it’s too late … do not only get a second opinion, but a third, a forth ….

4. Printing It

Provided the catalog is for print. With prodalist, you can also use the catalog project for emails catalogs, to print one by one, tailored for each customer, or to embed in the company mobile app. When applicable on the concerned market, the last two are not only way much cheaper, but permit to have an agile offer with much higher conversation ratio -see below for details-.

Tip if the printing is managed by you: it’s good also to have a print proof test with your printer company: the first page or so. They also have dedicated tools to check the files and check the compatibility with their equipment. This test is particular important if you have change software or procedure on your side, or if you are using this print company for the first time

prodalist printing machine

A word on prodalist

Of course prodalist does change that traditionnal process aboveprodalist bright colors

Not only on saving time and money

But on its consequences, on your market approach … being agile & sharp = more converting into sales

You could go through the extensive process of getting your product catalog done as described above, or you could choose to buy Prodalist – a one-stop solution for all your product catalog design worries. The software has an exhaustive list of features that allow you to do all the work by your marketing or sales team – without ever having to hire someone else again! This essentially means that you can have your own employees create the dreamed catalog, edit it as and when you may please and publish into the different channels at your own will.

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