While release notes typically are designed as organized bulleted lists, there are ways to punch them up for extra impact – or to help you illustrate the story behind the change. When writing your release notes, considering adding in a mixture of these elements to help your user base understand what the release note means and how it affects them.
5 Elements to Add to Your Release Notes
Youtube videos are an excellent way to help you showcase big changes to your audience. Whether it’s new functionality, or moving around elements of the UI, walking users through the changes, why you made them, and how it affects them in a visual way is great via video.
Need inspiration? Here’s how SaleForce does it:
Another way to visualize your changes, especially if they requite any step-by-step actions by your users, is to build infographics that can visually show off your changes. Infographics are also a great way to visualize KPIs users may be interested in, or to share datapoints that might help them use your product more effectively.
If you have less of a design budget, a simple screengrab will do in a pinch. Adding arrows or highlighting important areas will draw the reader’s eye and help you make a point about a change much easier – especially if the change is a special adjustment or a brand new button/link.
CTAs, or Calls to Action, help you keep the user engaged beyond just a quick glance at a release note. Adding in links can help you direct them to:
- More details on the change (for those who want a deep dive)
- Other related release notes
- Help pages, FAQs, or other sections of your website
- The app itself (to entice users to return to an app if they’ve been away a while)
- Press releases or other company news
- Newsletters (to help them keep in the loop in regards to future changes)
- Social media pages
- Related Youtube or instructional videos
- Related training modules
If you are a company interested in soliciting feedback, or willing to keep lines of communication open, it’s a good idea to include an email or contact details so that users know how to reach out if they have questions about the change – or suggestions for further improvements. It can be a great way to ensure the users feel heard while soliciting feedback in order to see what changes worked or if there are any more adjustments to be made.
Properly Organizing Your Release Notes
The most important aspect of a release note is consistency. The look and feel should remain the same release note to release note, and should follow the same template. Most release notes are concise and bulleted lists, however, breaking them into sections helps organize the changes and allows the user to see, at a glance, what’s changed.
A simple release note may have sections such as:
- What’s New
- Bug Fixes
- Resolved Issues
- Known Issues
- Documentation Changes
While each section may not apply to every release note, it’s nice to have a template that lays out your main sections, and then to fill in the ones that make sense for each requisite release.
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