How to Write Great Product Specs
New Redactor-power text editor to make writing specs easier
Your product specs just got a massive uplift in style and function.
Gone are the regular ol’ textboxes (along with their skeuomorphic legal pad lines and coffee stains), and in their place are gorgeous and super slick rich editing fields powered by Redactor .
We now offer you a whole host of editing options that will allow you to shape your product specs exactly as you need.
Most importantly, you want your specs to get read, and key to that is using the right tools to write effective product specs.
Here’s a quick guide to writing an effective ‘Brief’ to kick off your product spec:
Writing an awesome product spec brief
New one-liner idea ready to be spec’d
Now that you’ve got the tools to hand, it’s time to flesh out your ideas into product specs that your entire team can get along with.
Your starting point is a one-liner idea.
In order to get stakeholder buy-in and the official ‘Go’, you’ll need to go into a little more detail.
Start off with a quick one or two sentence paragraph outlining what the product spec will cover and why you’re doing it.
Write a short overview outlining what you’re spec’ing and why
Break your specs into distinct sections, using headers to highlight the different levels, and horizontal rules to break up major sections.
At a glance, anyone looking at your brief should get the gist of what you cover in each section of the spec.
Split your spec up by using clear headings and horizonal rules
Where you’ve got a list of options or requirements, putting these into bullet points or a numbered list can do wonders for actually getting your specs read .
We all skim when we read, and you
can be sure that some of your specs are being skimmed if you don’t make it easy to digest.
If something needs to stand out, feel free to add some bold or italic styling. Heck, you can even add some color. Whatever you do, make sure you’re emphasizing the right bits, you’re using it sparingly, and you don’t use all capitals (unless you’re @FAKEGRIMLOCK )… No one likes getting shouted at!
Use Bold, Italics and Color to get your point across… but sparingly
Give it some personality.
Don’t be afraid to add some spice in your specs! Half the fun of writing a product spec is getting to make up fake data and copy to illustrate your point. If it’s easier, personify the user you’re looking to help with your product spec and give them a fun name or profession.
If you know exactly what needs to be looked at in the codebase, feel free to include a snippet or two of code to illustrate your point.
However, at this stage, don’t dictate the exact solution unless it’s blatantly obvious and the only solution. As you work through your specs with your team, you might find a better way!
Use code blocks to highlight code formatting
Write as much as you need, and never any more! It’s entirely too easy to get really into the details early on in this spec’ing process.
Add links to relevant pages where needed. This is easy with the new text editor, whether it’s a link or an email you wanted to include.
In ProdPad, you can link to another idea simply by typing # then the Idea ID, and it’ll create the link for you. For example, if your spec needs to refer to IDEA 142, just type “#142” and the link will appear when you save. Note: This also works in comments throughout ProdPad, so get linking!