Anatomy of a Good Feature Description

Product Management

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This week’s Wizer Wednesday tip is about how to craft effective feature descriptions. Features are the main building blocks within Wizeline, which teams use to identify the product investments that are most likely to drive success. The name of the game? Zero in on which features should be prioritized for upcoming releases.

If you’re a product manager, you’ve probably seen a feature request like this before:

Customer wants to have better options for defining landing custom page performance elements. Needs to be delivered ASAP.

This a BAD feature description. Why?

  • It describes a goal that is indefinite — what does “better options” mean, exactly?
  • It doesn’t convey the feature’s value to users
  • It uses internal jargon
  • It conveys urgency (surprise, surprise) but totally lacks context about the customer’s expectations about relative priority

By contrast, let’s look at the following (rewritten) example:

Title: Performance Dashboard Top 10

Description: For the user to increase the number of new paying customers, the performance dashboard needs to identify the top 10 landing pages by daily unique visitors and track these pages’ conversion rates, measured by click-throughs/unique views.

Bingo. This is a much better feature description. Why?

  • It’s clear, concise, and conveys the story/customer need (to increase number of new paying customers)
  • It’s written in plain English, making it intelligible by several audiences within your company
  • It can be used over and over, from the first request through release and go to market

At the end of the day, a well written description allows your whole company to speak a common product language. Not only does this make the product manager’s job easier, it encourages everyone in the company to think about customer needs and goals.

So, in sum, here are 5 tips to writing valuable feature descriptions:

    1. Center features around user needs and goals
    2. Create a common language that sales, marketing, and engineering can all use to communicate
    3. Write clearly and without jargon
    4. Pick the right level of detail, concise but concrete
    5. Create a standard format — Wizeline uses Title and Description — that can form the basis for use across the entire product lifecycle

Posted by on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

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Dec 12, 2017

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