7 Steps of Writing The Perfect Product Release Note + Examples

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    Home / Product / 7 Steps of Writing The Perfect Product Release Note + Examples

    TL; DR

    🟣 Step 1: Decide on what to (and what not to) include in your release note

    🟣 Step 2: Provide enough explanation, and add additional links to relevant educational resources for more complicated features/ updates  

    🟣 Step 3: Explain the changes from the users' perspective and provide value

    🟣 Step 4: Be mindful about your language use

    🟣 Step 5: Format your copy in an easy-to-read layout

    🟣 Step 6: Label your release notes before publishing them

    🟣 Step 7: Gather customer feedback and feature requests on your release notes page/ product changelog

    Writing release notes for a new feature or a product update can be harder than coming up with the new feature or the product update itself sometimes...

    Is it gonna be like a blog post? 💻

    A sales pitch? 🤑

    A very detailed technical document full of error codes and update numbers? 👾 🛠️

    Or are you gonna give up and write "bug fixes and performance improvements"?

    Effective release notes can help you increase product adoption, reduce churn, improve overall user engagement, and build trust with your customer base.

    So they're pretty precious to give up on, I'd say.

    But don't worry, I'm here with 7 actionable steps for writing the perfect release note for your customers.

    After this article, you'll have both the confidence and the knowledge to create the perfect release note template that works for your product and customer base, trust me.

    7 Steps to Follow for Writing The Best Release Note

    Let's get going! 🤸🏻‍♀️ 🤸🏻‍♀️

    Step 1: Establish your scope

    Release notes stand out from product documentation or sales pitches because they prioritize updates and changes rather than providing an exhaustive list of all product features.

    They serve as informative texts specifically dedicated to detailing "releases," as the name implies.

    👉🏼 Highlight important feature updates and how the new functionality affects the user

    Decide whether you want to talk about all the little enhancements and bug fixes in your release note. For example, do you really want to announce that you made the main CTA button slightly bigger in your release note?

    No, I guess. Or at least, you shouldn't.

    You can still mention those small changes and improvements, but most of the time, they don't require a detailed description, and thus, they shouldn't comprise the majority of your release notes.

    Instead, you should utilize your space for more important updates and further explain changes that affect the user experience (UX).

    Like Notion does here 👇🏼

      Notion Release Note

    ‎They dedicate most of the space for their new features and bigger updates, but still they don't forget to list their smaller product improvements/ enhancements happening on the product development side, too.

      Notion Release Note 2

    Step 2: Be specific, but not too specific

    Okay, we're highlighting the major changes and new functionalities we're gonna offer from now on.

    We don't want our release note to look bland like this:

      Notability Release Note

    We're giving details and explanations.

    But are we writing a help article or a release note?

    Wrong answer: help article

    Right answer: release note

    Perfectly right answer: a release note with links to the related help articles

    👉🏼 Incorporate relevant links to additional resources

    Help articles, blog posts, videos in your knowledge base...

    Anything to educate end-users, really. 📚 📚

    The product release note should be useful and informative. It's not just about announcing what your amazing product team has been working on for the last month, but also about providing insights and answers to some of the "How?" and "What?" questions that might arise from both your technical and non-technical users.

    So, yes.

    The release note is not your product's technical document, I still stand behind what I said a few lines before.

    But for those who are interested in those technical details, you should provide opportunities to learn and explore more with additional resources.

    Slack achieves this perfectly 👇🏼

      Slack Release Note  

    ‎They do not explain every little detail in the note, but they attach links to explanatory articles from their help pages or knowledge bases.

    Because let's face it, you wouldn't really wanna learn how to add an American bank account as your payment method unless you're an American just out of curiosity, would you?

    👉🏼 Provide context

    You might be the product manager or the product owner, but your customers own your product and decide on its future to some extent, too.

    So you might wanna convey that you value their opinions by demonstrating how you incorporate their suggestions into your product roadmap or share insights into the ideation processes within product management and explain why a specific feature update is being released now, which can foster transparency and understanding.

    Was it a long-term wish from your customers?

    Was it necessary for security?

    Is it the beginning of a whole new feature releases?

    Answering these kinds of questions in your release note can make users feel more connected to the product's development journey.

    Show that you're a customer-centric company!

    Here's an example from Mailchimp's release notes for developers 👇🏼

      Mailchimp Release Note (for developers)

    ‎They're not just stating that they're changing their API responses and leaving it there. But instead, they explain their purpose, the "Why?" behind this update/ change, and what they plan to achieve with it.

    ⚠️ It's especially important to do so if your user base consists of people, such as software developers, who understand and are interested in the processes behind the updates.

    Otherwise, you might risk losing some of them because they don't perceive the update/change in the same light as you do. Without proper explanation, you cannot convince them of its necessity or why they should continue with your product.

    Step 3: (Re)State your value propositions

    One of the great ways to remind your end-users of the values you've been bringing and the values you'll bring from now on with the new updates/  enhancements is writing release notes.

    👉🏼 Provide example use cases

    Make sure that you clearly show how your users can utilize the new feature in their workflows and drive awareness about the opportunities this amazing new feature holds.

    Here's an example:

    "Previously, our analytics tool allowed you to track the time visitors spent on your website. Now, you can delve deeper by monitoring the specific actions each visitor completes and even replay their entire session.

    With the session replay feature, you can observe and analyze user interactions in real-time, gain invaluable insights into how visitors navigate your website, and identify friction points, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement in the user journey."

    👉🏼 Address user concerns/ pain points your new feature solves

    Adopt the jobs-to-be-done, mindset, and explain why this new release is important and useful from the perspective of your users.


    "It's more than just an analytics tool; it's a money-saving control screen. With it, you gain the power to decipher precisely what prompts a user to click on a call-to-action (CTA) or exit your website unexpectedly.  

    You can pinpoint the exact moment users abandon their carts, whether it's due to a confusing form field or unexpected shipping costs."

    Step 4: Be careful with your tone and language use

    Here's our motto: 💬

    "Not too sales-y, not too nerdy."

    👉🏼 Use plain language free from any technical jargon

    It's important to know your customer/ user base.

    If your target audience consists solely of developers or software engineers, it's appropriate to craft your release notes using their specific jargon.

    However, if your audience includes a mix of professionals and individuals from various backgrounds, it's best to keep technical language for documentation and help articles, and ensure clarity and accessibility for all users.

    Discord seems to find the golden ratio:

      Discord Release Note

    ‎They have a fun and unique tone but still, they're explaining their new features/ changes clearly enough for the users.

    So it's both creative and informative.

    Step 5: Always think about the format

    It's important to format your copy in a readable manner with clear headings, bullet points, italics, and bolds if you want them to be actually read.

    In order to improve your format -and thus reading rate-, you can also:

    👉🏼 Provide a TL; DR, brief summary, or table of contents

    A visible and clear structure is a must.

    You might have the best copy with the best headings, but if they're not visible at first glance, you can never be sure that they actually reach your target audience.

    Mixpanel goes for a table of contents, for example 👇🏼

      Mixpanel Release Note

    ‎They have a lot of big changes in this release and it's clearly an important release for them, in order to ensure that each user visiting this release note is informed about all of the changes and they don't leave the page after reading about the first change.

    They list the new features/ changes on the right side, in a table of contents.

    👉🏼 Incorporate visuals: screenshots, gifs, videos...

    As our great great ancestors once said, a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, a GIF accomplishes what a 200-word paragraph does in just 5 seconds.

    So save your words, and use visuals when you can 📸 🎥

    We can continue with the Mixpanel example for this one, too:

    In the same release note, they put explanatory videos for each and every subheading -a.k.a. change/ new feature-, in which they go over the major feature changes with the user and showcase how they look and function.

    Like this:


    And this:

    👉🏼 Add a relevant call to action (CTA)

    Great release notes make use of call to actions (CTAs) and motivate users to try out the new feature.

    Don't just explain how beautiful your new feature is, but also take your user to your product and motivate her to try it out by herself and see the value of it with her own eyes.

    Step 6: Make use of labels/ filters

    Labeling, labeling, labeling...

    It might not seem like a part of writing a release note, maybe, but it's definitely a part of publishing a great release note if you don't want your each new release note to get lost in the release note junk afterwards.

    In order to label your notes efficiently, you need to think about:

    🔹 Your user base (their needs and their roles),

    🔹 Why they're using this product,

    🔹 And which releases will be important for which user segments.

    Your product team already thinks about those things during the product development processes and release cycles, so you already have that information available somewhere there.

    You just need to show it on your product release notes page with labels and filtering options, as well.

    You can label your release notes based on:

    🔸 The release date

    🔸 The release type (feature retirement, new feature, improvement, etc.)

    🔸 The product (if you have more than one)

    🔸 The roles/ teams they affect

    🔸 The value they bring to users

    Here are a few examples of how different companies use labels/ filters 👇🏼


      Trello Release Notes Page

    ‎They label their release notes based on the type of the release.

    So a user can filter through release notes and check only the new features, fixed issues (bugs and improvements), retired features, or BETA features.


      Airtable Release Notes Page

    ‎Airtable people decided that one label was not enough, so they went with two:

    ✅ The release date

    ✅ And the affected user segment/ plan

    Step 7: Encourage customer feedback

    A software release note is a great way -and place- for user feedback collection and user engagement.

    If you distribute release notes in one changelog/ release notes page and collect user feedback on the same page, you can have an organized place to monitor the reactions of your end-users to your new updates/ changes.

    👉🏼 Use interactive reactions

    Sometimes we don't have the energy to provide lengthy feedback, or we don't actually feel that strongly about something to make it worth writing sentences even.  

    Sometimes, it's just cool.

    Or horrible.

    No further explanation, it just makes us feel so.

    Do you feel what I mean?

    But these reactions are still crucial and meaningful for product teams and product managers, even though there's not much of a rational explanation or reasoning behind them.


    What can we do to assess user experience that cannot be explained by words?

    We can use emoji reactions, of course!! 🤩 🧐 🤐

    👉🏼 Use chat boxes

    For users who prefer to express their experiences with your new feature in words, you can utilize chat boxes to gather insights about the benefits and drawbacks of the new release.

    You can even use the chat box for user idea submissions or feature requests to put on the product idea board and product roadmap.

    Or better, use them both!

    Like UserGuiding does 👇🏼

      UserGuiding Release Note

    ‎At the end of each release note they publish, there's an emoji reaction part and a chat box for each user type: those preferring simple reactions and those preferring a written reply!

    So they don't leave anything to chance, they'll engage with the user and get that feedback this way or the other 💭 💭

    In Short...

    You know that release notes are more than the new feature/ product name, and release number. But they're actually part of something bigger, like your relationship with your customers.

    They can actually have a big impact on your customer satisfaction rates or the general image of your brand and they can even improve product adoption.

    You can even drive awareness and reduce churn with a good release note!

    And from now on, you don't need to stress about writing your own release notes... You got the tips and tricks and you've seen some amazing examples and good practices.

    So, go and create your very own release note template and publish some high-quality release notes 🏃🏼 🏃🏼

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Not To Include in Release Notes?

    Good examples of product release notes do not include irrelevant product details, marketing/ sales fluff, or excessive technical jargon. You should focus on essential updates, changes, and bug fixes that directly impact users. And avoid overwhelming readers/ end-users with unnecessary information or promotional language.

    How Do You Announce Release Notes?

    You can distribute release notes through in-app communication, such as in-app messaging or in-app widgets/ resource centers, email newsletters, or on a dedicated page such as a product changelog page. Additionally, you can consider utilizing social media channels or community forums to reach a broader audience and encourage user engagement. Finally, you can utilize easily accessible 3rd party release note tools to create and organize your release notes, too.

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