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 links to articles describing new features in detail or troubleshooting tips.
- Upcoming changes, improvements, and/or fixes in the works.
Why should I be using release notes?
Release notes are indispensable to the software development and launch process because they...
- Are a vital line of communication between you and your customers. This opportunity is key and you should be taking full advantage of it. Done well, release notes contribute to your branding, engage your customers & give them a good impression, and keep them intrigued about what's coming down the pipeline.
- 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.
- Give you the opportunity to explain yourself. Release notes 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.
Slite's free release notes template
Convinced yet? We thought so! Release notes are often overlooked and thrown together as afterthoughts. Here at Slite, we want better for you. 🙏
Our release notes template is an amazing product management tool and gives you a great 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?
What are you waiting for?
How can I get started?
You can begin customizing your release notes template by:
💬 Consulting With The 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.
💻 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.
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.
...there you have it! Your release notes will be ready to go in no time. Your end users will take note and appreciate it... trust us!