Today’s market is rapidly evolving and highly competitive. The improvement rate of existing technologies and the introduction of new ones constantly accelerate. The dynamics of product delivery has changed dramatically in the past couple of years. To stay competitive and preserve your product on the market, you have to keep pace with all these changes.
But launching new products and improving existing ones is not enough. Without communicating them to the customers at the right time and in the proper way, all your efforts may be in vain, regardless of the quality of your product. Here, your release notes play a significant role, which is why we’re going to share actionable tips on how to write them.
What are release notes?
Release notes provide customers with a brief summary of the product in case of new releases or explain improvements, resolved issues, and newly-added features. The purpose of the release notes is to enable the user to understand the current state of the product, past updates, release versions, and support user guides and make the whole user support experience more convenient.
Why are release notes important?
The importance of the release notes lies in the fact that they are a direct communication line with your customers. Proper use of release notes can give you a key advantage over the competition by transmitting clear and complete information about the product to your customer.
In such a way, your customer will not only be well informed about the product but also be aware of all the benefits he gets by using your product in particular. You will ensure that your customer is always up to date with new events, that you keep things under control and they will be more thrilled about upcoming releases.
How to write good product release notes? Follow the tips below:
Writing product release notes isn’t that difficult. However, it follows a certain form that we’ll discuss below and some tips that will help you optimize the whole process.
Before you start
To fulfill their tasks and be effective, product release notes have to be written well and delivered at the right time and in the right way.
You should plan your release notes ahead. If you write them too close to the release date, they will probably be poorly written, incomplete, and miss key details. Make a plan and think of release notes as part of your product development process. Ensure that every single product change is documented well – commit to the process and write release notes for every update and change you make.
What to avoid
Release notes shouldn’t lack details and be boring. Avoid using general remarks like “General bug fixes” or “Feature improvements” without any further details about what you have fixed or enhanced.
Your customer will get unhelpful information and ask, “Which bugs?”, “Were they fixed?”, “What was improved?” and so on. This can confuse the customer and increase dissatisfaction with your product or service.
Keep your release notes clear and simple
Release notes should be concise, understandable, and easy to consume. Users don’t want to read about things that are unimportant to them. They want to take a look, skim through it, and quickly understand what it is about. Find a balance between providing enough information and not using big, complicated blocks of text.
Keep explanations short and simple. You can include some visual content and provide links to external resources with further explanations for additional information.
Use plain language and be careful when using technical terms. You are addressing a wide range of users, and they should understand you through a single product release note. Don’t deter them from reading by using complicated technical jargon.
Focus on the customer
Everything you do is dedicated to the user. Release notes are a communication line with your customers. That’s why release notes should be about the customer and not about you and your product. Clearly explain the benefits from the changes you made and the values the customer gets.
Get to know your users, show that you care about their needs, and they will stay loyal to your product.
Make release notes well organized
Don’t write endless blocks of text. Use subheadings, bullet points, paragraph breaks, and drop-down menus to segment content.
Group your release notes logically into sections: “Bug fixes”, “New features”, “Improvements”, etc. That way, you will make them more accessible in accordance with the user’s area of interest.
Always include the date of the release note publication. This will give the necessary context of events to everyone.
Use Release Notes Templates
Using templates can be a good way to automate the process of writing product release notes. It can help you to save time and ensure that release notes are consistent and thorough.
Don’t treat release notes as an afterthought. Make them an integral part of your product development process. Release notes require time and resources but consider them as investments in building a unique end-user experience. Your customers will surely know to appreciate it and you will be well ahead of a lot of companies.