What are Release Notes?
A release note is a technical documentation published alongside the launch of a new product or an update to a product, i.e., bug fixes, enhancements, and so on.
It briefly describes a new product or details changes in a product update. It means the same for both internal and external users. Release notes help in product development and implementing the right product roadmap tools.
What do you write in the Release Notes?
Ideally, the release notes should include important information. For instance, changes to a product, the reason for those changes, and how they affect the product and the user. And what changes the user must make in the operation of the product.
The release notes must not just include the product additions but also the features that get pulled back from the product and the reason for doing so.
How to write good release notes?
Step 1: Create a title
Include the new release’s title. It could be the update’s version number or a unique name. Make it short and catchy, and attempt to give it a name that reflects the update’s content.
Step 2: Include company and product information
Include the official name of the product and the facts of your company’s registered name. The reader should tell which product in the release is updated.
Step 3: State the Release Version Details
Include information about the release version’s credentials. What can they look forward to with the next release? What effect will it have on the existing product and its users?
Step 4: Include a Timetable
Mention the release date for the new version to the general audience. If a beta version gets planned, specify when it will be available and who will be allowed to participate.
Step 5: Add New Feature Information
Include any new features introduced in this release. Be specific, and use media such as photographs and videos of the new features to support your claims.
Readers must have a solid knowledge of the new features to be eager to download the latest release.
Step 6: Describe the Product’s Resolved Issues
Mention the resolved issues. What problems did they previously cause?
Step 7: Explain the Advancements
Include any changes and upgrades from the previous version. It is the most significant portion since it encourages readers to upgrade to the new version.
Demonstrate what they’re missing out on in speed, upload time, and search possibilities, among other things.
Step 8: Add any more elements
Include any resource manuals, videos, or other documentation that supports the new functionalities.
These resources can serve as “how-tos” for learning how to use the new capabilities, especially if they are technical.
Release Notes Best Practices
Keeping things simple with technology and new features and updates might be challenging. You want to go over every detail, and with so much documentation, you absolutely must.
However, even technical readers’ attention spans are shorter these days than they were previously.
When drafting release notes or other product documentation, ensure it’s well-organized. With enough headings and sections, readers can scan the text and extract the information that interests them.
Describe the update’s primary benefit:
Users are customers who are always curious about what this can achieve for them. They are unconcerned about the new feature or upgrade.
Lead with the primary value for them. Then dig into how it operates and what it does when trying to catch the user’s attention and introduce your change.
To assist cement the point and ensure the improvement is evident. Photographs, GIFs, and a brief demonstration video. If you give visual context, it will be easier to absorb information. Anyone will be more apt to look at what your team desires.
Create a changelog:
Keep all of your changes in one single location or in-app changelog. It is a terrific method to ensure that they are always relevant and that your users can locate them.
The first benefit is that users will understand precisely where to go to discover your most recent upgrades. They’ll be able to see how your product is progressing in real-time.
You’ll be able to demonstrate how dedicated your staff is to improve it. Second, the updates will be simple and relevant.
Use release notes to re-engage, not irritate, your audience:
Another method to make your release note notifications more valuable and relevant for users is to segment them depending on what they’ve seen from you. And even how long they’ve been users and what they’ve engaged in the past.
Examples of Good release notes
Slack takes a unique approach to its release notes, which is why many people consider it one of their favorite software release notes examples.
They want you, the user, to be able to view information about their latest update wherever you are.
They achieve this by posting updates across their social media networks, writing blog entries, creating a changelog, and uploading to the App Store. And even having their in-app update center.
They use Twitter to promote one single thing that they have updated. They maintain a consistent theme across their social media. And in-app updates while publishing more prolonged, extensive blog entries and changelogs.
They can then notify regular users (through social media) and those interested in learning more (blog posts and changelogs).
People have pretty varied perspectives because of the innovative and off-the-wall nature of Medium’s software release notes.
These notes are unquestionably an extension of their overarching company objective of promoting creativity among their users. They’ve written everything from poetry to bug ASCII graphics.
Release notes are both for support and marketing purposes. They tell the users why the release is essential, what changes it brings, and how those changes would help provide a better user experience.