How to define product features (plus, templates you can use)

Last updated: March 2024

Every product feature is an opportunity to delight your customers and create value for the business. But this only works if you are focused on those two outcomes from the start. When defining features, you have to look beyond what you want to build — focusing instead on which problems you can solve.

Sometimes this means setting aside shiny new ideas for the less glamorous ones your customers have been asking for. It can also mean building fewer features — there is a misconception that the more functionality you add, the more people will like your product (when in reality the inverse is often true).

Tradeoff decisions must be made. While a feature idea might excite customers, you may find it will take more effort to build than you deem it is worth. And other popular ideas may fail to make the cut if they do not support company or product goals.

These nuances are what make feature definition and prioritization such a crucial piece of a product manager's job. It takes an ongoing commitment to the product vision, customer research, and cross-functional collaboration to cut through the noise and find what matters — identifying features that people will use and love.

Plan and prioritize features in Aha! Roadmaps. Sign up for a free trial.

Let's walk through how to define product features in detail — including a template and examples. Use the following links to jump ahead to a specific section:

What is a product feature?

A product feature is a specific function or characteristic of a product that provides value to customers. It can include capabilities, design elements, or performance upgrades. For product managers, defining and prioritizing features to build is a key aspect of the role. You are responsible for ensuring that any new or updated product features align with your business and product strategy.

To do this, most product teams follow a consistent, repeatable method for writing product features. That way you can reliably communicate new functionality to stakeholders and tie everything back to your goals — avoiding a hodgepodge of enhancements that customers do not need or want.



What is the difference between a product feature and other terms?

Product development terms could fill a dictionary (which is why we wrote one). When learning the lingo, some folks might get confused about what differentiates a feature from a product, benefit, or other increments of work. Before we go any further, let's clear a few things up.

Product vs. feature

A product is an offering you sell to customers to satisfy a need or want. Products often encompass more than the item or service itself — including elements like sales, support, integrations, and other touchpoints that people interact with (at Aha! we call this the Complete Product Experience).

A feature is a discrete area of functionality within the product. While important, it is only one small piece of what customers are actually buying.

Product feature vs. benefit

A product feature is a specific piece of functionality that provides a corresponding benefit or set of benefits for the customer.

A benefit is the positive outcome or advantage gained from using that functionality. In other words, benefits describe why a feature ultimately matters to the customer.

Below are a few examples of the difference between product features and benefits:





Reverse automatic braking

Enhanced safety

Financial reporting software

Custom analytics report

Flexibility, configurability

Online training portal

Search and filter options

Time-savings, interactivity

Product features vs. epics, user stories, and requirements

Along with features, product teams leverage epics, user stories, and requirements to describe what you will build. The table below details the most common usage for these terms. Depending on the development methodology your team uses, the terms may have slightly different meanings.


A group of related features or user stories that share common business objectives. Epics are larger bundles of work that tend to span multiple releases.


A slice of functionality that describes a product's appearance, components, and/or capabilities.

User story

A product feature that is described from the perspective of the end-user. The user story format is helpful in relating features to benefits.

As a [type of user], I want to [action] so that [benefit].


A defined capability that needs to be completed in order to deliver a feature. A single feature may have multiple requirements.



How to define product features

Before you write a feature, you need an idea. Ideas for new product features can come from anywhere — you, your team, customers, and other stakeholders. But not all ideas become features.

As a product manager, it is your job to gather, assess, and prioritize ideas to identify which ones are feature-worthy. For most teams, it is impractical (impossible, even) to build every suggestion that comes your way — you have to determine which ones will have the greatest impact. This process is called idea management and it is the precursor to the feature definition process.

With your best ideas identified, you can start writing features. Defining a product feature means clearly communicating what you want to build and why. A well-defined feature should describe both the functionality as well has how it addresses a customer need. These details align the broader product team on the problems to solve and how to approach them.

For example, a detailed feature provides engineers with the context to help them decide the best way to implement the new functionality. For product marketing, it helps highlight which benefits to showcase in the go-to-market strategy.

When you start defining a product feature, consider these questions to help clarify the details:

  • How will this feature contribute to our goals and initiatives?

  • What challenge will this feature solve for?

  • What capabilities or user experiences need to be designed and built to deliver this feature?

  • What is the timeline for delivering this feature?

  • Which customer segments or personas will be served by this feature?

  • Who is responsible for delivering this feature?

In the tutorial video below, Aha! product expert Rose Thompson will help you understand the flow of ideas to features as well as how to approach feature definition. The next sections will explore feature components, templates, and examples to help you get started.

Editor's note: Although the video below still shows core functionality within Aha! software, some of the interface might be out of date. View our knowledge base for the most updated insights into Aha! software.



Product feature components

Consistency is key to effective feature definition. Most product teams follow a set structure — so the details and strategy are clear for every feature. The exact details may vary, but below is an overview of the components to include when writing a product feature:

Feature name

Title summarizing the functionality you want to build


Description of what the feature will entail — you can also include any background information that will help the team


When you plan to ship the new customer experience


  • Not started

  • On track

  • At risk


Product manager, development team, designers, QA, etc.

Strategic alignment

Explanation of how this supports business and product goals — why are you building this feature now?

Who it benefits

Who will benefit from the feature — link to any personas you have

User challenge

The problem the user is trying to solve and ways they may be attempting to solve it

Value score

The value estimate for the feature

Design / UX

Link to design explorations or mockups in progress

Impacted functionality

Take note of any other functionality that this feature may affect

Open questions

Any questions the team may have for each other or cross-functional groups


Additional background information and anything else that the team may need quick access to

Product feature template

Templatizing your feature definition process saves time and gives your team the details they need to move forward. You can get started writing your own features with a whiteboard features requirement template — which includes all of the components outlined above.

If you want to track features throughout the entire product development process, consider using Aha! Roadmaps and Aha! Develop for an integrated product development approach.

Access this feature requirements template in Aha! software. Sign up for a free trial.

Feature requirement large


Product features example

Now let's look at a few examples. Below is a product feature titled "Support each other's race goals" for a cycling app. Note that this Aha! Roadmaps feature template is slightly different but captures the same essential information (with added layers of detail). Click to zoom in and read how the new functionality should work and how it benefits the user. On the right side, see additional details about this feature including its status, assignee, related personas, and the goals and initiatives it will support.

Seem like a lot of information for a single feature? While you can write features in a more simplified way, all of these details are how the best product managers stay organized, track feature development, and ensure that whatever is being built always links back to the overall strategy.

A feature outlined in Aha! Roadmaps that will ensure users can support their friends' race goals

An example of a product feature captured in Aha! Roadmaps

Of course, most product managers oversee a number of features at any given time. It is important to have a tool that allows you to visualize all in-progress features within a single view.

The image below is an example of a features board — each card represents a feature that a product manager defined and organized into a release. For instance, "Marketplace integration" and "Custom branding" are grouped together because both features will enhance the partner portal.

A features board showing all of the releases for a company called Fredwin Cycling in Aha! Roadmaps

Examples of product features on a features board in Aha! Roadmaps


How to prioritize features for your product roadmap

With your features defined, what happens next? Before you begin building, you have to prioritize — because you cannot build everything at once. Product managers must think critically and evaluate what will deliver the most value to customers.

Effective feature prioritization considers a number of factors — like how many people a feature will benefit, how well it achieves business objectives, and the effort to develop. Many product teams use tools such as value scores, user story mapping, and prioritization frameworks to help decide and align on the most impactful features to build. From there, you will create a roadmap and work with engineering to move features that are high-priority into upcoming releases for development.

This is only a brief overview of feature prioritization. In reality it takes times and effort to develop an objective prioritization process that everyone can agree on. To learn more, dig into the recommended reading below.