The core of your site is typically your product catalog. Every product or service that you own should be maintained in a content database with clearly identified meta data fields that describe each product. This organized storage originating at the source of this content is critical for reuse. The catalog is just one of the delivery options. You will also use this for search, mobile, and promotional delivery, over and over again.
The fields for your catalog will vary based on the business that you are in but there are some universal basics to identify. Product name or title, short description, feature description, benefit list, product image, functional application image, price, packaging, shape, size, parametrics, long description or body, reference document, cross reference or competition description, training, media options, etc.
Some of these features may not be visible to both your customers and your sales channels. The product catalog pages are a natural access point to your private sales intranet. Those secure features should use appropriate "hide when" rules depending on who the visitor is. You do not want to distract the real customers with services provided to your sales channel partners. The public web site is for your customers and you should not compromise performance for them in order to make your sales channel happy. For example, if there are too many hide when calculations on your pages, the delay for the calculations might make your pages too slow for customers. The objective is to optimize the loading while also providing the additional features. That is where the art comes in.
Design the structure of your product folder pages of the catalog so that the H1 title is clear at the top of the page. Where possible you want the name and the short description to be tightly coupled to the product folder URL. Integrating your document titles and your short form descriptions with your focus search term words will get you the best visibility for your organic SEO efforts. The product image and the application image are for the benefit of your customers. The alt tags that you add to these images is for the benefit of your search indexing. The meta data content (hidden fields) should be auto populated with the appropriate content from your catalog fields, i.e. Title, Heading, and Meta key words.
Accumulating everything you know about your products and presenting it on the web in the product folder is a good practice. However, do not compromize on user experience performance by making your pages so large that they never load for your global customers. I am a strong advocate for presentation tabs that break up this content into small logical chunks so that they are able to "stay above the fold" for the visitor as they tab through every screen. The technology is available to load the initial tab for instant response for the user, while preparing the subsequent tabs in the background. This both impresses the visitor with speed but it also optimizes the transactional funnel by keeping the user focused on immediate decisions page by page.
Do not let feature creep just add more and more data to this page as it will ruin the user experience and waste the user's time as they struggle to find the information that makes them productive. Modular structured data is also useful for delivery to the many form factors for smart phones, tablets, and even printed production.
This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.
Phil Gibson ©2016