Automated Catalogue Page Production
Content management systems (CMS) and product information management systems (PIMS). A good product information management system should have the facility to allow you to produce catalogue pages.
Alternatively, you can use a content management system which tends to be more dedicated to producing catalogue pages and website pages. PIM Systems tend to be more functionally rich than CIM systems as they contain far more information about products etc.
Getting the Data Right
The key to creating a catalogue through one of these systems is accurate data. A company should already hold most of the data about its products, so this should be a pretty straightforward process. For companies that do not have all the information on their products, producing a catalogue can be quite a headache. They will need to compile all the information into a database, including product titles, product codes, product descriptions along with other information, such as size variations and prices et cetera. As previously mentioned, this information will already be held in a PIM system.
The data that is going to be entered into the system needs to let the system know where products are going to be positioned on the page and other factors, such as which products to be grouped together. For example, you may have a product that is available in numerous different sizes, but you do not need individual descriptions and photographs of each product as they look the same. This requires the family of products to have a group code, the system and the templates then know that various elements of the content are only needed once, but other information such as the product code on the elements that make the product unique, such as size or colour appear on the catalogue page.
Using the PIM or CMS System
If you have a PIM System, but it is not one with a catalogue production facility, the data can still be exported into an excel database. From there, the data can be used to populate the catalogue artwork pages. Here at Gray Associates, we have our own PIM system. This allows us to take our customers data, produce a catalogue design, and automate the catalogue artwork production.
Once the data is ready, the first stage is the catalogue design process. Several catalogue design options can be produced and the client can choose the one they prefer. This is often a combination of several designs options. They may have a preference for one of the catalogue design options, but other features from the remaining designs may take their fancy, so these can all be brought together into one final agreed catalogue design.
When creating your catalogue design, there is no restrictions on what can be done using one of these systems. If the catalogue is for industrial products, it is probable that most of the pages will look similar in layout. However if you are producing a fashion catalogue you may want all the pages to look unique.
To get this more unique look, you may just use the system to drop the content and the pictures on the page, and then move everything around to create the catalogue page design. Some people may think using a system like this can restrict the catalogue design, but this is not the case.
The job is then to get the catalogue data and images into the catalogue artwork. This final stage is generally done in Adobe InDesign. This process involves creating templates that allowed the data to be taken from the PIM system and placed into the InDesign pages based on the agreed catalogue designs.
These templates need to cover the range of pages that are required. For example, the pages may contain only one product, two products, three products etc. So a template needs to be produced that covers every possible amount of products that can appear on the pages.
The data that is supplied needs to allocate products to pages, and position them in the order they want to appear. The data that is supplied will have a product code for each product entry, the picture that is to appear with each product entry needs to have the same product code, this allows the system to know that they are both to appear together.
Getting these templates right is one of the most important parts of this process. If these templates are produced perfectly in line with the catalogue design, it can save a great deal of time at the artwork stage. The aim is to get the data to appear on the page as near to complete as possible. The less work that needs to be done manually in inDesign the better. It is safe to say there will always be a certain amount of additional work to be done in this form of catalogue production, such as adjusting the size of pictures. But the less the better.
Most catalogue design and catalogue production are done in InDesign. This is a functionally rich software package produced by Adobe. Templates that have been produced tell InDesign all the formatting information that is required for the product entries and other elements of the catalogue design. This includes things such as typeface, the weight of the font and colour. Without producing a catalogue through one of these PIM or CMS systems, this would have to have been done manually. As you can imagine copying and pasting this information or typing it in manually would take a great deal of time, but these systems with well-produced templates, format the text and other information at the press of a button.
In summary, these systems can save a great deal of time and money and make a very long catalogue production timeline much shorter and manageable. They also allow as much flexibility for creating attractive designs and page layouts as is required, with no limitations.
It is very important not to cut corners when producing the templates and when working with the content in InDesign. Getting these absolutely spot on can save a great deal of time and make it much easier to update for the next edition or create different catalogues using the same content.
For more information on our services, or to discuss your exact requirements with one of our expert design team, feel free to get in touch.
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