Designing a product page for an engineering audience can be a difficult task.
In the electronics industry, design engineers, component engineers and even software engineers are looking to find the right content fast on your product pages. Industry research shows that engineers are being asked to work more quickly than ever. With more project responsibility, less resources, and more pressure to reduce their approved vendor list, they’re doing all of this from home. Electronics companies don’t want to provide product pages that frustrate engineers as they’re trying to find answers to key questions, so, with these trends in mind, electronics companies are redoubling their efforts to create competitive and differentiated product pages for their prospects and customers.
77% of engineers are 78% of engineers say that their job concerned with cost.
2020 Mind of The Engineer
78% of engineers say that their job requires them to work quickly.
2020 Mind of The Engineer
72% of engineers are working remotely.
2020 Mind of The Engineer
71% of engineers say they feel pressure to do more with less.
2020 Mind of The Engineer
70% of engineers are working on more projects than they did 3 years ago.
2020 Mind of The Engineer
Getting to Know the Electrical Engineer
There are few industries in which knowing your customer is more important than in electronics. Engineers are a unique breed, with high digital expectations and little tolerance for poorly designed product pages that get in the way of their design process. They want the most important information on a product page front and center. They also want key product information aggregated together (ex: data sheet, reference designs, applications notes, ecommerce) so that all the most important information is in one place. If it isn’t, they’re willing to jump to another supplier who better meets their digital needs. Big Zeta works with electronics companies conducting engineering persona research, product page usability testing, buyer journey research and competitive site analysis, all in an effort to give our clients the competitive edge. These initiatives give customers a deep understanding of how electrical engineers think, their content priorities, their digital likes and dislikes, where they gather to get digital information, how their design cycle works, and what they don’t like about supplier and distributor web offerings.
Get Content Priorities Right
Gaining a clear understanding of what content, data, and calls to action you have available to populate your product pages is only the first step. Next, you must accept that not all content is equal. Today’s engineers are working on more projects simultaneously than ever before and are expected to deliver results at a blistering pace. Electronics companies should expect design engineers to be hitting their sites with a minimum amount of patience and attention. Understanding how to improve engineers finding and utilizing key product page assets is critical.
With an intimate understanding of our target audience and a solid grasp of the content available, we can begin to effectively prioritize product page assets. Despite the abundance of content available, we have the ability to address the complex wants and needs of engineers if we fight the inclination to throw everything at the user in an attempt to provide all the answers all at once. In a world where information is king, it can be hard to resist the impulse to put all the assets on one product page.
But product pages should be treated as an opportunity to simplify, fulfilling the engineer’s request to move quickly by maximizing every pixel on your product pages. Understanding which assets matter most on the product page, prioritizing their use, and focusing on presenting those assets with high conversion in mind are central components to keeping engineers engaged.
What are the three most essential systems or tools you use today to complete your project?
Engineers use technical documentation, software and development tools, product specification data, and data sheets to complete projects
Pulse of the Engineer 2019
Prioritizing key content assets is critical to building out engineering friendly product pages. Your content can be classified in three ways:
Tier 1 Key Assets
What technical reference documentation is available? (i.e. technical reference manual, app notes, package and pinout, schematics etc.) Referencial material is best consolidated in a singular modal nested near the top of the page or clearly identified directly underneath any promotional material that might need to take precedence.
Software & Development Tools
Tooling and supportive material should be clearly grouped together, as both are simultaneously needed by the engineer during the discovery and build phases of the design cycle.
Product & Specification Data
Key specification parameters (i.e. voltage for power solutions) are clearly identified in a concise table nearest the product description. Companies are using more interactive tools like constrained product-specific parametric tables to help empower the engineer to interact with the data.
Reference designs are often a starting point but are more dominant in certain technologies. In more complex solutions, such as microcontrollers, FPGAs, ASICs, image systems etc., reference designs are almost a requirement to attract new designs, and ease of accessibility should be prioritized. Reference designs are an area in the electronics industry where companies are moving towards interactivity. Enabling the engineer to interact with reference designs allows for greater user engagement and adds context to content.
Tier 2 Assets
Block Diagram Tools
Block diagrams and associated tooling are becoming increasingly important in capturing the attention of today’s engineers. As an engineer browses through
your products, block diagrams are an easy way to offer high level information,
cross pollinate products, and simplified design concepts, which help accelerate
the design cycle. Over the last few years, we have seen the rise of the interactive block diagrams, which enable an entire host of additional capabilities, not only for the browsing engineer but also for the content creator. These enriched diagrams capture the eye and mind of the engineer if executed properly, allowing the creator increased vision into the current stage of the engineer’s design process, leveraging multiple technologies contained within their catalog, and creating an opportunity to uniquely capture new business.
Interactive assets are becoming more prevalent as the relationship between the digital world and engineers continues to evolve. The key to capitalizing on this relationship is creating and maintaining valuable digital assets that capture the attention of the engineer and keep them engaged for as long as possible. Calculators consistently prove to be a valuable resource for design engineers and, in many cases, engineers state that access to these tools keep them consistently returning to their host site.
Tier 3 Assets
The new frontier of abstraction is upon us. There is still a necessity for direct
low level (RTL) control, but today’s world is one where even the most complex technologies are manipulated with an extreme level of abstraction (C++, Python, etc). In response, we are seeing a significant jump in software engineering degrees with recent EE graduates. Embedded design is now a core step in nearly all new design efforts and proves to be fertile ground for capturing new business. Dedicated design environments, custom compilers, public repos, etc. are becoming a mainstay and have proven to be a lynchpin in the decision making process. If you have these resources available, they need to be easily accessible and cleanly nested on every relevant product page.
Sites like YouTube and Vimeo or apps such as TikTok and Vine have dramatically impacted how engineers of the past and present ingest digital information. There isn’t one penultimate medium with which to serve up relative information on your products, but video is very quickly making a case for itself. Between 2018 and 2020, we have seen more than a 50% increase in consumption of video material as an informational source. The medium provides a unique ability to simultaneously provide insight into your ecosystem whilst quickly distilling technical information. From training material to promotional assets, video content is nearing the point of becoming a requirement.
Kits and Samples
Eval kits and sample programs have been an essential part of the electronics industry since nearly its inception, and this isn’t changing anytime soon. In many cases, it is the mere existence of an eval kit or ease of getting samples that ultimately proved as the deciding factor to go with a particular technology. This is especially true within competing technologies. In more advanced technologies, such as ASICs or FPGAs, kits are a hard requirement, whereas with less complex technologies, sampling is a staple. This information can be neatly served directly on the page itself next to supportive documentation, or the page can be used as a launching pad to give access to these resources. Speed is king and the easiest way to kickstart a new customer is to get your technology directly into their hands with an engaging out of the box experience.
Key Questions a Electrical Engineer Would Ask
(EX: DESIGN ENGINEER)
1. Are there any reference designs available?
» Reference designs are always sought after for a starting point but are certainly more dominant in certain technologies. In more complex solutions such as FPGAs, ASICs, Image Systems etc. reference designs are almost a near requirement to attract new designs and ease of accessibility should be prioritized.
2. Where can I find technical specifications?
» Key specification parameters (i.e. voltage for power solutions) are clearly identified in a concise table nearest the product description.
3. What technical reference documentation is available? (i.e. technical reference manual, app notes, package and pinout etc.)
» Referencial material is best consolidated in a singular modal nested near the top of the page or clearly identified directly underneath any promotional material that might need to take precedence.
4. What tooling is available? (i.e. software)
» Tooling and supportive material should be clearly grouped together as both are simultaneously needed by the engineer during the discovery and build phases of the design cycle.
5. Can I see budgetary pricing and lead times?
» Engineers are being asked to take into consideration many more elements of the design cycle. Although not the determining factor in many circumstances, design engineers are now being tasked with budgetary and supply considerations. This information should be served up to the engineer with zero hurdles.
6. How fast can I get going?
» Engineers are now expected to work on multiple projects simultaneously and are tasked with delivering products quicker than ever before. As engineering pressures continuously increase, this crucial fact is always at the forefront of the engineer’s mind.
Laying It All Out:
Once you have a solid understanding of the electrical engineer, their design cycle, and what assets to prioritize on the page, you’ll be able to start laying out your product pages. Gone are the days of static product pages with little real-time data and outdated content. Engineers are looking for the latest technical documentation, they want pricing and availability in real-time, buying channels (including the distributors that support a given supplier), and in-context links from the supplier site to the distributor site for easy purchasing.
The Move to Interactivity
As the industry has transitioned away from static content data, real-time data has remained essential. Now, interactivity is a crucial component in keeping people engaged on your pages.
By utilizing interactive versions of the same essential content your users rely on, you facilitate an intuitive buyer journey that converts. Catering to design engineers with interactive data sheets, eCommerce data, application notes, and reference designs builds functionality into your site, which builds loyalty among your audience.
Suppliers are also increasingly working to build more of the design journey into their product pages with product constrained keyword and parametric search widgets, more interactive design tools that keep the design engineer on their sites longer and integrated question-to-answer technologies like design communities, support portals, chat-bots and enhanced search capabilities that decipher intent and provide the best results to the engineer.
Big Zeta works with electronics companies of all sizes to create product pages that have just the right amount of near real-time content and data prioritized and presented in ways that map to the design cycle, raise overall conversion and delight design engineers– or at least keep them engaged!
Engineers consistently request that key assets be called out on the page either through increased weighting, iconography or placement on the page (ex: a well called out data sheet). Engineers are also looking for easy scannability of pages and a logical progression of content that starts broadly but very quickly becomes very specific.
Just in Time Information or Content in the Right Time and Place
Gone are the days of putting everything about a product on a giant page. Forward-thinking electronics companies work to understand how an engineer will flow down a page. The right flow often starts with more general information like summaries, key specifications and high value links and anchors. It can then flow overview videos, key reference designs or application notes. As the user browses down this logical progression, they move into free samples, kits, and eCommerce capabilities. Strategic placement of designer community information can also provide reinforcing messaging from engineering peers that the product has been vetted by other engineers. Innovative electronics companies also use graphical treatments like filters, folders, and tabs to allow users to interact with the product page as their needs unfold. Innovative electronics companies also find ways to integrate their navigation trees and parametric search engines into their product pages so users can easily jump up, down, or laterally through a product family series or group as they explore different options.
» Just in time
» Flow or narrative
» Strategic placement
» Filters, folders
» Easy navigation throughout the site.
» Logical progression based on buyer journey
Collect and Compress:
Great example of an eCommerce table:
Smart digital designers look to collect similar information and reduce redundancy. A prime example is buying tables where all the right information is all in one table, allowing an engineer to buy through an estore, jump in context to a distributor or place, and request a quote. Another prime example is placing all the key product information close to the top of the page, allowing a user to check all the mental checkboxes in her head as she tries to understand how much required information is readily available. The real challenge here is the balance of just the right amount of information without throwing everything at the user at once.
» Just in time
» Flow or narrative
» Balance of Too much or Too Little
Call-Outs and Weighting:
The right call-out or increased weight on an asset, like a data sheet, can make all the difference in an engineer quickly finding a required asset. Companies approach this in many ways, but different techniques can include color treatments, distinct graphics, iconography or priority placement on a product page. Being consistent with these calls out is key both in style and usage. If done correctly engineers will begin to understand that these unique treatments are meant for them, and are highlighting key information.
Inputs and Outputs:
Engineers do more than 90% of their research online before ever contacting a salesperson. One of the biggest mistakes on electronics product pages is not understanding where the engineer has come from, and more importantly, where they want to go. Engineers come to supplier websites from multiple entry points including digital campaigns, organic search, distributors, competitor product pages and other pages on your company website. Sooner or later, they’re going to leave the product page, and you want to make sure they go somewhere that is in both their and your best interest. Create your product pages in such a way that engineers of all different levels of familiarity with your product pages can quickly orient themselves to the product offering, and can get the information they need.
One of the most common issues we still see with many electronics company websites is the inability to manage in-context product linking. An example of this is an engineer who has gone to your product page, found a part that meets their needs, hits a buy button, and is taken out of the product page to the homepage of your estore forcing them to re-find their way down to the right product in the estore. This kind of out- of-context linking can be seen in documentation, ecommerce, support, communities, approved distributors all breaking the flow of moving the engineer closer to purchase and raising the chances of abandonment and poor brand confidence. Many companies manage the linking of products across systems with tagging or unique binding keys that are referenceable in all the systems, and can be used to take the user in-context from product pages into other systems where they will land on ecommerce, support or training pages that are exactly constrained to that product.
If ever there was a time to produce excellent product pages for engineers, it is now. The unique atmosphere created by an increasingly digital world, a more connected and efficient workforce, and an abundance of innovative tools presents no shortage of opportunity for electronics companies. Capabilities around customer intelligence, interactivity, content, data, UI/UX, as well as emerging technologies like artificial intelligence have never been more powerful. Built upon an evidence-based foundation of the right customer intelligence work, you’ve got an edge–the ability to prioritize content, page layout, and optimized interactions within the product page to the benefit of your company and your customer.