For vegetables, I look for things like hardiness, days to maturity, approximate produce size, and water requirements. Since we live in a cold and dry climate, care must be given to these options. But I also pay attention to what the catalog writers say about sweetness, ease of growing, and hours of sunlight needed. Sun requirements are specifically varied in the Flagstaff area as some sites are shaded by our Ponderosa Pines and other areas, like Baderville and Doney Park, get more sun than some plants appreciate. For flowers, I look for blooming time, height, pest resistance, and if it attracts pollinators or not.
As you may have guessed already, not all seed companies are equal. Seed companies often rely on seeds grown far away and not adapted to the local climates. Seed patenting is also becoming an issue for both large and small organizations relying on seed sales for their livelihood. Beyond the fancy catalogs, look for companies committed to quality seeds meant to grow in your type of climate. Not only will they try to grow as many seeds of their own at their location but they will also contract local growers to produce quality vegetable, fruit, herb,