Spec sheets are not needed in many categories but if you sell technical appliances, their importance cannot be overemphasized. For things like computers, cameras, refrigerators, heavy duty blenders, power tools, and the like, your spec sheet may make or break a sale.
A lot of spec sheets are terrible
According to Baymard, a full 64% of sites selling technical products have terrible spec sheets. This complicates matters for the technically literate who buy nearly all the high-performance products and appliances out there. It’s also quite vexing to the technically literate who might just be shopping for the highest performing products around a certain price point.
How do you make a great spec sheet?
- Style your spec sheet
- Group related elements together for scannability
- Harmonize your units
- Specify spec standard
- Summarize key features
Styling your spec sheet
This is the easiest in terms of implementation. It makes your spec sheet visually appealing and easy to digest.
For starters, use a single column for your spec sheet or two at worst. A large table with multiple rows and columns is quite intimidating.
You can also use shading to highlight key features. For a computer these would be things like the RAM, storage capacity, and operating system version (Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac OS 11 etc.)
Group related elements together for scannability
A lot of sites just dump product specifications on the page for a customer to sift through and locate what they want. This isn’t ideal.
Let’s take a laptop for example. A graphic designer or an architect would be very interested in a laptop with a highly responsive touchscreen while a pro gamer may not be interested in that feature at all, focusing more on the available RAM and graphics card capabilities.
So, for a product like a laptop, you need to group related specifications together in subsections. You should have a screen section with specs like screen size, resolution, refresh rate, and technology used (LCD, plasma, LED, OLED etc.)
A network section would contain information about supported connectivity standards and their exact protocols (LAN, Bluetooth, WiFi etc). A processing section would have stuff like CPU type, cores, clock speed, available RAM + type and the likes. You get the gist.
Harmonize your units
Harmonizing units is necessary for effective product comparison. Manufacturers may not always use compatible measurements. This especially the case with measures of length, weight, force, and pressure.
Depending on a manufacturer’s location and target market, they may use either imperial or SI units. If you buy from multiple manufacturers or have third party vendors on your site, you may end up with a jumble of conflicting measurements whose conversion isn’t straightforward and ends up frustrating your customers in their product comparison efforts.
Whenever you harmonize your units, tailor them to the local markets. That means no SI units in America except for stuff like processor clock speeds. Also a unit like the inch has become widely accepted as the international default for measuring for screen size so there is no need to change it.
Specify spec standards
Giving specifications isn’t enough. The standard upon which a specification is measured is very important for discerning buyers.
Let’s stick with our laptop computer example. The Random Access Memory (RAM) of a computer is very important. It basically determines how fast a computer can function, how many programs it can run at once, and what kind of programs it can actually run. Accessing YouTube on your browser or typing something into Microsoft Word requires a lot less RAM than say playing a graphics-heavy video game.
Yet not all RAM’s are made the same. Just stating that a computer has 8GB of RAM may be fine for the average user but heavy computer users know there are five generations of RAM modules: DDR1 to DDR5. The larger the number, the faster and more advanced the RAM module.
DDR4 and DDR3 RAM modules are the ones that currently come with most computers yet DDR4 is on average about 70% faster than DDR3. That makes a computer with 8GB of DDR3 RAM inferior to one with 8GB of DDR4 RAM.
Summarize key features
It’s also important to summarize the key features that most buyers would be looking for. This is more of a quick overview of a product and can be given just above the more detailed spec sheet.
For a computer these would be things like RAM, storage capacity, and the operating system version. For a refrigerator or freezer these would be specs like wattage and the minimum achievable temperature.