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Release notes template

Release notes are documents used to update your users on changes in your software product. They are key to keep your user base engaged and make sure they leverage all the possibilities you offer.
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What are release notes?

Release notes are documents that people receive when they buy and/or download software products. Nowadays, they're often distributed virtually.

In the modern world, release notes are more important than ever. This is because buying software products isn't as straightforward a process as it used to be. Buying software products is now an ongoing process as you can count on the fact that you'll be sent product updates, bug fixes, new features, and more after your initial purchase.

Unfortunately, many companies don't use release notes to their full advantage. This is a huge missed opportunity. Great release notes should be written intentionally and not as afterthoughts.

Release notes vary considerably depending on the software, company branding, and how they're distributed, but often include the following elements:

  • A header. This should include a clear title, date, and version number (where applicable)
  • Purpose. Clearly state why you're sending out your release notes. Possible categories might include initial purchase, bug fixes, user experience improvements, new features, operations updates, and new product releases
  • A summary of changes and/or improvements made
  • Relevant links. Release notes should be kept as concise as possible. To facilitate this, you can include external links to articles and documents describing new features or troubleshooting tips in detail
  • Upcoming changes, improvements, and/or fixes in the works

Pro Tip: Good release notes often include visual elements in order to make them more captivating and engaging for users. This can include screenshots, images, videos, and even GIFs. Take a look at our own public release notes.

Public release notes template
Our release notes on Slite's website

Why should you care about documenting release notes?

Release notes are important for a myriad of reasons. Below, we discuss all the benefits associated with distributing release notes with your software products.

However, we’ll make things simple for you. The one factor that makes release notes documentation so important is the fact that they help people use your software product to its full potential. Make your current users aware of your last developments, give updates on most-known bugs, and turn your existing users into champions.
Whether it’s an end-user or team member reading your release notes, your ultimate goal is to communicate information about your software product and help someone understand it better.

It doesn’t matter how great a new software product is if no one knows how to use it to its fullest potential. That’s why release notes are so important. Everyone should be able to use your software just the way it was designed. 

The benefits of a great release notes

Release notes are incredibly beneficial to the software development and launch process because they:

Are a vital line of communication between you and your customers. 

Don’t underestimate the power of having a direct line of communication between you and your customers. This opportunity is key and you should be taking full advantage of it. It allows you to send them additional information as it comes up, as well as nurturing your (hopefully long-term) customer relationships.

Done well, release notes:

  • Contribute to your branding
  • Engage your customers
  • Give off a good impression
  • Keep people intrigued about what’s coming down the pipeline
  • Educates customers
  • Helps people use your product to its full potential

Act as customer service tools

Release notes can be used to share information with your customers, rather than them having to contact you through other means. This is beneficial to both your company and your customers.

Give you the opportunity to explain your choices

Many companies don’t have the opportunity to follow up with customers after their purchase, at least not directly. Especially when any issues or bugs arise, release notes give you the ability to explain yourself after the fact.

Basically, they help prevent your customers from feeling like they're in the dark. They give you the opportunity to explain what fixes and features are being released and worked on. They also give customers the impression that their voices are being heard and that your company is invested in delivering an excellent product.

Improve your reputation

Excellent release notes are a massively untapped resource. Many companies don’t put them together at all, while others produce release notes that are confusing, lacklustre or just downright insufficient. 

Owing to this (and the fact that release notes are so useful to both end users and internal parties when they’re done right), writing excellent release notes will improve both your software and your company’s reputation overall. 

At the end of the day, it looks a lot more professional if your new software goes along with clear, comprehensive, and aesthetically appealing release notes.

Slite's free release notes template

Release notes are often overlooked and thrown together as afterthoughts. That's why we want you to care about it.

Our release notes template is a great product management tool and gives you a solid basis to start from. It also has a sleek look, is 100% customizable, is perfect for collaborative work... and did we mention that it's free?

How to write release notes with our template

You can begin customizing your release notes template by:

1. Consulting with your developers

Before you start writing your release notes, make sure that you have an excellent understanding of the updates you need to communicate to your end users. This is especially important because you should avoid technical jargon, so you'll likely need to put the updates in your own words.

Remember, most of your end users don't have degrees in computer science.

2. Doing some research

If it's your first time putting together release notes, it's a good idea to do a quick Google search and check out some examples of great release notes put together by some of your favourite companies. This will help you take note of what works and what doesn't. You can also check out some of the examples we’ve provided below.

If you have anyone on your team or at your company who does have experience with release notes, now would be a great time to consult them. Make an outline and ask for their feedback. They can even give your release notes a final review further down the road.

3. Brainstorming

It's worthwhile to consult your marketing and/or content marketing teams in the early stages of putting together release notes in order to determine whether there are any branding elements or visuals that you can bring out in your release notes.

It’s also a good idea to brainstorm your release notes with other team members before you get started. This ensures that you won’t miss anything important and that everyone is on board.

4. Grabbing our release notes template

Release notes

On top of this page, you can use our Release Notes Template by clicking “start with this doc” when you’re ready to begin.

Pro Tip: It's a good idea to discuss how your release notes will be distributed. You'll have to decide between e-mails, blog posts, social media, in-app updates, app store updates, or a mixture!

Questions & answers

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