Dressing up the uniform catalogue

Catalogues are one of those jobs that designers love to hate… unless the editing and layout instructions are clear and well organised, they have an obsessive-compulsive attention to detail and endless time to get the template exactly right. The chances of all three coming together are rare and unusual experience. The NSW Health Uniform Catalogue wasn’t one of these times.

This catalogue was part of an overhaul of the staff uniforms for all NSW Health hospital employees, from the material styles for the various jobs roles to the design and availability of the clothes on offer. The catalogue is 58 pages long and extremely image heavy – that’s the main reason I have included this project in my portfolio. While I like the design and layout (particularly the little stitched borders), the real test was compressing the document enough that it could be easily downloaded from the intranet. There were no printed copies available and all the ordering was done online or by phone to the supplier, so the images had to be of good enough quality to easily see the clothes style, and yet small enough to not take all day for someone to view on a standard home internet connection.

The first web size PDF version I did of the final document was 12MB despite all the images being vectors, way too big as I needed to get it below 5MB at least. I fiddled around with the settings in Acrobat, did days of Google research and experimenting with different options. In the end the only way I could reduce the size enough without losing quality was to convert each page as a separate AI file (just the clothing images and layout design – the text was kept in InDesign so it could be edited easily for future updates) and re-import them into the InDesign file before exporting the whole thing again as a compressed PDF.


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