Although often neglected, release notes are one of the most important elements of software production: They allow key stakeholders to keep up to date with new features, changes to the software, bug fixes, and more. It is an important way to communicate with your users and receive valuable feedback on what changes work and what changes don't. It is also an excellent way to document the evolution of your software.
Sadly, despite all these benefits, software developers and web designers often don't know how to approach release note design. This article is the antidote. We'll explore the benefits of release note templates, we'll tell you the vital pieces of information you need to include in that template, and we'll give you tips on how to improve the final product further.
If you're looking to design release notes for your software or web app, you've come to the right place. Continue reading!
Why Create a Release Notes Template?
Sadly, many web designers and engineers think creating a release note template is a waste of time. They prefer to jump into the action and just write the release notes, but sadly, this is a huge mistake.
Creating a release note template is an essential step in the process, and in this section, we'll go over all its benefits, including release notes design and release notes saas tools for automation.
- Standardization: By using a consistent format for all release notes, teams can ensure that important information is always included and that the notes are clear and easy to read. Having a good release notes design can save time and reduce errors. You don't need to reinvent the wheel every time, and our release notes examples can help ensure that all release notes are consistent in terms of format, language, and tone, which will be deeply appreciated by the end users.
- Time-saving: Updating a release note template with relevant information for each release can save time and reduce errors. You don't need to reinvent the wheel every time.
- Consistency: A standardized template can help ensure that all release notes are consistent in terms of format, language, and tone, which will be deeply appreciated by the end users.
- Improved communication: By providing clear and concise information about the changes and improvements made to the software, teams can help users understand the benefits of each release and how to take advantage of new features.
- Organization: Using a standardized format can help teams keep track of changes and improvements more easily.
- Automation: By using release note tools or software, teams can automate the process of creating and formatting release notes, which can save time and reduce errors, ultimately improving productivity and reducing costs.
How to Create a Great Release Notes Template? What to Include?
What to include is the most important aspect of a release note as it decides its content and its utility to users. You need to make sure the release notes template is comprehensive and has all the relevant information your users might need. Below are just some of the things you need to include in a release note:
- The version number of the product.
- New features in the current release.
- Changes to features that will impact existing users.
- Bug fixes.
- Technical documentation of known bugs and workarounds.
Depending on the manner of distributing release notes, this can vary greatly. If it is a blog post, you'll have more room to include more information in the release note section. If it is a push notification of a hotfix, you'll have to include only the bare essentials in the product release notes.
Simple Release Note Format
Below is a simple document you can use as a baseline for your own releases. It is important to remember that each piece of software is different, and your users needs might differ greatly from another software designer's, and that's why it is always important to adapt existing product release notes template to your own circumstances.
- Title: Your heading or title for each new function, feature, or app update
- Description: Phrases describing the improvements, issue fixes, and new features in detail while keeping it concise.
- Embedded Media: Any images, videos, or other materials that might provide greater context for the new function, changes to existing functionality, etc.
- Relevant Links: Any pertinent links to product documentation or technical details for the engineers in the audience who might need more details. Adding relevant links to additional materials is a great way to provide extra information in the product release notes to those who want them without cluttering the main body of the software release notes with unnecessary information that won't be relevant for the majority of your users.
4 Tips to Make Great Release Notes
- Make Your Intent Clear When You Write Software Release Notes
People read release notes because they want to know what has changed in the most recent version and how that will affect them. Make sure the wording of the notes is clear and makes it obvious what has changed.
Your notes must be clear. You must strike a balance between giving visitors enough information so that they don't miss anything vital while avoiding confusing, lengthy blocks of text that will only end up confusing the user. Explain things briefly and plainly, but avoid oversimplifying. Striking the right balance between informative and helpful is the key to writing good notes.
- Organized Software Release Notes are Key
When required to read or scan a wall of text, users will usually immediately give up. Use subheads, drop-down menus, bullet points, and paragraph breaks to keep the content separated and structured.
It is important to understand that different users have different priorities. Some users might be checking to see if a bug they've been suffering from is fixed, while others might only care about the exciting new feature you've promised to release. By properly organizing the release notes, the user will find it easier to quickly identify the change that pertains to them.
- Focus on the Needs of Your Target Audience
Keep your eyes on the prize: don't forget who the target audience of your release notes is. Your primary consideration should always be the user. What details are they in need of? Can they locate it in your notes with ease?
It will be easier for you to relate to your users and make your updates interesting and simple to understand if you write them with their needs in mind. The user will be more engaged with your notes and is more likely to comprehend the changes you've made.
- Add Visuals: Text Only Can be Boring
Almost all software release notes are technical and dry: There's simply no way to get around this fact, but, nevertheless, it is important to make sure you don't make the release notes more unbearable than they already are. An excellent way to do just that is by including blocks and blocks of text without any accompanying visuals.
If your release notes require extensive explanation, providing a relevant GIF or a useful image that demonstrates the change in detail will go a long way to making your notes more engaging and readable.
Of course, this changes depending on the type of software or web app you're designing. If you're designing highly specialized B2B software that requires extensive technical knowledge to operate, your users will probably not appreciate gifs and images, but in most circumstances, it is a welcome addition.
Release Notes Template FAQ
A template of a release note is a standardized format used to document the changes and improvements made to a software product or application between different versions or releases. The template typically includes information such as the release version number, date of release, a summary of the changes made, any known issues or bugs that have been resolved, and instructions for users on how to install or upgrade to the new release. By using a template, software developers can ensure that they provide clear and consistent information to users about the changes made to their products.
The responsibility of writing a release note typically falls on the software development team or the product management team. The development team is responsible for documenting the technical changes made to the software, while the product management team is responsible for ensuring that the notes are written in a clear and concise manner that is easily understood by end users. Tho, there are a lot of different corporate structures, and in small teams, for example, engineers are usually responsible for writing the release notes while very large software development companies might have dedicated technical writing teams to take care of the job. It is important to choose an arrangement that suits your particular circumstances best.
When writing a software release note, it's important to include clear and concise information about the changes made to the software. Start by creating a standardized template that includes the most important details about the new version from new features to changes and bug fixes.
If you're having trouble writing a release note, It can be helpful to use software tools, which can automate the process of creating and formatting the notes, and help ensure consistency across different releases. These tools can also provide additional features like integrating customer feedback and notification centers. This is precisely what our tool Releasecat does.
- Releasecat Team
STREAMLINE YOUR SOFTWARE RELEASE NOTES WITH RELEASECAT
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