What should be included in a PRD?
A good PRD starting template will be different depending on your business and team. However, most Product Requirements Documents should include:
- Goals & Objectives
- Key Stakeholders
- User Personas & Stories
- Release details
- Design & Wireframes
- Future Roadmap & interactions
Again, this is just a broad overview of how a PRD can appear. You may find it necessary to include all of the above in your document, or you may only need to take those things that you deem relevant to your product development process.
1. Goals & Objectives
This part of the PRD is the “why” for building this product in the first place. It provides the context around the product's lifecycle, and how it aligns with the broader mission and vision.
Aim to clarify the problems this product is being designed to solve to help ensure your development team creates a product that solves its purpose and does so in a way that is enjoyable for the end-user.
2. Key Stakeholders
A simple but often overlooked part of the PRD, identifying the key stakeholders in the product roadmap process. This should include but is not limited to, the product manager, internal or external designers, product developers, the document owner, and any direct reports or leadership positions that are involved.
Everyone needs to know whom to turn to and for what, should they need to.
3. User Personas & Stories
These personas are so essential in a product’s development process and result. Each persona that you create should act as an input on the product’s experience and should have a particular purpose or challenge to help your product reach its end-goal. They help to provide the product's use cases.
Many new product projects tend to go wrong here; they revolve around personas built too similar to one another, merely changing gender or age. Knuckle down on your user personas. Who are they? How old are they? What gender do they identify with? What’s their occupation? Where are they from? Most importantly, what’s their name?
Ensure that all of these factors are different but accurate to the data you have available. Use Google Analytics, social media, and other audience data to help you build these out.
Naming personas will help a product development team be able to design for someone, not something. Build enough of a persona for the team to be relatable and understand, by doing so they’ll create an end-product that fits someone’s- and therefore the market’s- identified needs.
Support these personas with user stories. For example, “As Cindy, someone who does XYZ, I need this product to XYZ.” By using these customer needs as support starting blocks when designing a new product, your design team will create something that remains true to purpose and market fit.
These stories should primarily focus on a particular feature of the product. They should answer a pain-point, identified in the MRD, and the value the feature can provide.
4. Release Details
These are so important, not only to help a product team ensure the product roadmap stays on track, but also for other teams involved. It will help people manage their workload so that they’re able to support the product as and when they need to.
Product release details should include milestone names, features, details, features, and initiatives.
5. Design & Wireframes
Visual designs and wireframes are a must for any successful product requirements document. They help engineers to understand the design vision and answer the pain points of user personas.
By introducing wireframes at this stage, you’re able to identify problems and find solutions that would not have been apparent without a visual aid. Don’t think of design at this stage as graphic design. Your wireframe should function as a blueprint or basic map for where your core features will fit within a page and what those pages need to be in the first place.
Wireframes don’t need to be something beautiful, but they need to give your engineers and other stakeholders a clear vision of how the product will be used and how a user will flow through the product.
The gift of hindsight is such a powerful thing. We don’t know if a product will succeed or fail, nor every hurdle we may encounter throughout the development process. What we can do is try to identify as many risks we may encounter along the way.
A risk can be anything from a shakey timeline to new code or talent, a particular integration, or an external resource needed. By identifying risks early in the process, the product team can conquer any of the more significant challenges at hand as early as possible and prepare a plan B for any situation.
7. Future roadmap & iterations
A product is never really a finished piece of work. It should be in a constant state of flux, learning from its use, adapting, and growing to new technology or consumer needs. The first iteration of your product should be exactly that, a first draft.
As a product owner or manager, ask yourself what functional requirements are essential for the MVP, and what can wait for the second or third iteration. Perhaps even consider what’s best held off until a second or third iteration, and could be championed with some user-data under the belt.
Try to plan out your product’s future roadmap for the design and engineering team members to understand what foundations need to be laid now to make these versions possible. Consider the purpose of all your future work, the timeframe you expect it to be delivered under, and its priority alongside other features.