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My intent is to display data in a grid formation, presented as cards. I don't know what cardinal rule(s) of design / UX I'm breaking here but it is not working out how i would like it.

Here is a mockup/placeholder for what I'm trying to achieve (very roughly):

Mockup I cannot use any images to make it more visually appealing as the listing is for the same digital item but with different options. I want to represent these options with icons (empty circles in the mockup) to differentiate one card from another. Seller's shouldn't have a display picture shown either.

Is this fundamentally a Design/UX misstep or something deeper?

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This is a great start. If you want add something to differentiate one card from another — be sure it has a purpose. Do not decorate just for the sake of decorating. You may look better as a designer, but users may not benefit from tiny, colored, round icons if they do not know what they represent.

Add contrast to where it matters to the user, not to the designer. The user cares about (1) price; (2) location; and (3) min/max. Right? If so, enlarge the text for these variables. Yes, the current design is clean but everything blends together because it's mostly all the same font size. Nothing stand out that helps the reader scan quickly. If each card was truly unique, I believe the design will be confusing as the reader has to decipher too much contrast.

Here are some ideas: enlarge the pricing; add a little more color to min/mix; or (perhaps) add a graphic for location?

enter image description here

If the end user benefits, then you have done your job as a UX / UI / designer.

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