When the publishers of Australia’s Yellow Pages, Sensis, invited us to pitch to design their covers, we didn’t think we had much of a chance. The other firms invited were either larger or had had a long relationship with Sensis.
Our only option was to introduce unusual thinking. Instead of trying to make a coffee table book, which is what previous covers had attempted to be, we tried to make the covers work harder.
Using Sensis research, we discovered what the most common uses for the Yellow Pages were. Unsurprisingly, a small number of use cases made up the vast majority of uses. So, for both the A-K and L-Z we designed icons to represent those cases (which were different depending on the city the book would be published in – Brisbane needs more air-conditioner repairs than Hobart does) and then put the page number for those things right on the cover.
We also fixed another user pet-hate –– the fact that you can’t tell which volume is which at a distance –– by simply making the L-Z black instead of yellow.
Like I said, don’t worry if it’s beautiful. Just make sure it works.