How Do You Use a Catalog?

code better • have fun

I’m in the middle of updating the Pragmatic Bookshelf site to be mobile-friendly and accessible.

It turns out to be a lot bigger job than I’d imagined.

I’ve overhauled login, signup, account management, title display, checkout, and downloads. And then I met my match.

The catalog.

Here is the page on our existing site:

The idea is to let folks browse our books, both to find a title to solve a specific need and also to discover a title they might not have otherwise found.

It’s ugly, and it’s boring.

So my first though was to dress it up a little—3d covers, hyperbolic graphs showing the relationships, and so on and so on.

That wasted about a week.

Then I realized that what I really need to think about is what people want from a catalog like this. How can I make it really helpful? What do you use it for? Can we make it more fun to find stuff?

I would love to hear from you. Are there catalogs like this elsewhere you find useful? Are there techniques and designs you’d like to see us use? Any ideas at all? Please feel free to email me ([email protected]) or drop a comment below.