Thoughts on website ideas, PHP and other tech topics, plus going car-free
Feature comparison system
Categories: Ideas, Outline

When purchasing a new product, the consumer these days will often do web-research to make appropriate trade-offs between features, quality, service and cost. However, this can be tricky without expert guidance, since the detail and format of product spec sheets varies substantially from manufacturer, and there is either too much information (customer is swamped with detail they find unimportant) or too little (unable to make a decision based on missing criteria).

Here’s an example of the criteria I used when I last bought an electric bike:

  • Minimum two years warranty on electrics
  • Minimum two years warranty on whole bike (these are often warrantied separately)
  • Hydraulic disk brakes
  • Brakes of a recognised brand
  • Electric brake cutout switches
  • Shimano gears
  • Under 23KG weight including battery
  • Mountain bike frame
  • Front forks of a recognised brand
  • Suitable for rider of 6’+ height
  • Under £1,500
  • Brand new
  • Available immediately

I’d narrowed down my search to Oxygen and Wisper brands, but I wasn’t sure they’d be an exact match. Furthermore, I was aware it was quite possible I’d missed an interesting product that wasn’t well-advertised, or was too new to have garnered much attention. What would have been great would have been a community-maintained site containing an expanding set of technical criteria, which are updated by owners or (ideally) manufacturers as products are released, revised, and retired.

The community can request new fields, which then maintainers need to complete for the existing dataset as well as for new items. This offers powerful searchability as well as a centralised location for third parties to consume API data to feed their own services.

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