In the fast-paced world of software and product development, staying ahead of the game is crucial. Release notes have long been vital to keeping users informed about updates and improvements. 

Too often, these essential messages get lost in the sea of mundane and uninspiring content. 

That’s why we are here to show you how to improve your release notes and turn them into engaging, informative, and even enjoyable pieces of communication.

We’re exploring the significance of release notes, sharing some outstanding examples — as well as some examples that could be improved — and most importantly, revealing key strategies to create top-notch notes that captivate your audience. 

Follow along for ways to transform your release notes game and make a lasting impact on your users. 

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What Exactly Are Product Release Notes?

Product release notes are a document or set of documents that accompany the release of a new product, feature, or update. They usually include a description of the new product, changes to the old product, known issues, or bugs, and their workarounds.

Software release notes, for example, come in a bulleted form that comes alongside a software release to tell users what has changed. 

Release notes can be a boring technical document nobody likes to read and write. Our mission as a product manager is to make these notes more appealing, interesting, and informative.

Why Should Companies Care About Release Notes?

If you don’t announce a new update to your users, they may not notice it. No one wants to develop new features that are not used.

Product release notes can help businesses keep track of how well their products are performing and identify potential issues. They also provide a way for customers to learn about new features and updates and provide feedback on them.

Developing new features and announcing new updates can increase user adoption. This is one of the most wanted things by companies and is key for companies to have a loyal customer community. 🤝🏻

Where Do Companies Go Wrong With Product Release Notes?

Three main problems associated with release notes typically involve:

  • Note management
  • Broken communication
  • Distribution channels

The biggest problem they face is lacking communication within their teams. Even in small companies, the technical team finds it difficult to explain what was changed. Often they fix something and a few weeks later also forget what was done this month.

Leaving release notes tasks to the development team is another place where companies go wrong. The development teams tend to write very technical release notes for people with Ph.D. in computer science.

Ultimately, it comes down to not having the right tools and processes in place to consistently push out relevant and engaging release notes. AnnounceKit has a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, release notes tool to help with that. Click on the link to learn more.

Readers don’t care how something was fixed; they only care about the final result. How can they benefit from the update?

Best Release Notes Examples: 5 Awesome Sources of Inspiration

Let’s look at the best Release notes examples. Here we’re sharing companies with great release notes pages and how you can learn from them. 

#1: Salesforce

Salesforce is a CRM platform with many products under their umbrella. So keeping customers updated about new features and product changes is hell for technical writers, product managers, and developers.

I assume the company prepares quarterly release notes, called “Salesforce Summer ’19 Release Notes, ” a comprehensive release notes page with its categories and subcategories.

Salesforce release notes are a blend of regular release notes as well as product map. It is a detailed explanation of how each feature will work, and specifically to which users they will be available.

release notes example and release notes template

Step 1: Explain what the new feature is all about.
You no longer have to switch to Salesforce Classic to manage territory assignments on the Account page. You can now edit the Assigned Territories-related list in Lightning Experience. Previously, the related list was read-only in Lightning Experience.

You no longer have to [do X action] to perform [Y action]. You can now do [Z action]. Previously you were able to do only [Q action].

Step 2: Explain how to enable or access the feature

Where: This change applies to Lightning Experience in Performance and Developer editions and Enterprise and Unlimited editions with the Sales Cloud

Step 3: Explain how to use the feature

How: If your Account page layout includes the Assigned Territories related list, no setup is required. Click Assign Territories and assign to manage assignments.

Release notes app and tool examples

#2: Sketch

If your product is not that complicated and is not a platform with a big umbrella of sub-tools, check out Sketch company.

The layout is interesting. On the right side, you have a detailed description of all new features and bug fixes; on the left, there are main big features descriptions. And CTA.

Again, we see a simple release notes template:

You can now do [X action]. You can easily do [Y action]. We’ve also introduced a new [Z feature]. [Description of what the Z feature helps users to achieve.]

Sketch's Release notes exmaple & release notes template

The release starts off with their Smart Distribute Upgrades.

You can now use Smart Distribute to control the spacing in grids. You can easily adjust the vertical spacing between rows of layers, as well as the horizontal spacing between each layer in a row. We’ve also introduced a new ‘Tidy’ button to the Inspector. It quickly aligns a selection of multiple layers into a neat grid, making it even easier to create and manage complex layouts.

Again, we see a simple release notes template:

You can now do [X action]. You can easily do [Y action]. We’ve also introduced a new [Z feature]. [Description of what the Z feature helps users to achieve.]

In improvements:

  • We’ve added a new Select All in Artboard command to the Edit menu so you can quickly grab all of the layers on any Artboard you’ve selected. We’ve also given the different Select All commands their sub-menu.
  • We added [X feature], so you can now do [Y action].
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when you try and drag-to-select with the Magic Wand tool.
  • Fixed a bug where the correct type weight wouldn’t appear for fonts with the same name.

– Fixed a bug in the Pages and Layer Lists where selections wouldn’t highlight correctly when connected to an external display.

So, coming back to user-oriented release notes, This example shows just how we need to understand that we are writing our release notes for our target audience. Salesforce writes its releases for people without technical backgrounds, sales departments, and marketers, entrepreneurs, founders, etc.

Sketch is used by graphic designers and artists. Both Salesforce and Sketch use a generic tone, are very user-friendly, and are oriented toward real people.

#3: Getpostman

If your product is technical and your users are developers, then the opposite is a rule of thumb. The shorter, more technical, and not visually appealing is better.

For example, Getpostman is a technical product for developers.

Release notes can be quickly scanned through to have a generic idea of what’s new. And it follows a very simplistic format.

Update the number, date, and information in one sentence about each update without details about what it means for a user, how to use it or how to access it.

The simpler the better. They’ll understand.

Get postman release notes template & example

#4: Slack

Finally, someone uses words effectively. 

For those who don’t know, Slack is a corporate communication application used by company employees. Besides the announcements in the app stores, they also share the product release notes via the browser, just like Twitter, but there is a slight difference between them.

product release notes

Product release notes may not have a large readership. But if we will share it, why don’t we strive to do our best? They said: 

“We’ll return you to your regular, more interesting types of release next time (we hope).” 

Even if their update fails, we can’t be mad at them for their fun approach. 🥰

Also, Slack changed the colors of its logo to yellow and navy blue to support the Ukrainian people. The most meaningful Slack update ever! 🤗

Let’s take a look at Slack’s updates notes for mobile devices:

product release notes

he Slack team has written a long product release note. It’s obvious that they care about this job. In addition, they have prevented complexity by collecting all updates under related headings.

  • Create an elaborate product release note ✅
  • friendly language used ✅
  • Collection of updates under headings ✅

Slack gets high marks from us!

#5: Tumblr

The web pages that the companies I’ve reviewed so far shared their release notes with had very plain designs. Tumblr seems to have raised the bar a bit in this regard.

My opinion on this matter is quite clear: If you are a social platform, you should make a good impression in all areas. This includes the web page where the release notes are shared.

product release notes

Tumblr does something else admirable in its product release notes. Apart from new product updates and bug fixes, they also share future improvements.

product release notes

This is proof that they are making planned and regular updates. They did a great job up to now while Tumblr updates are announced. Bravo Tumblr! 🦸🏼‍♂️

If something is good, no change is needed.

Not-So-Great Release Notes Examples: 5 Sources To Promote Improvement

#1: Facebook

I’m not going to talk too much about Facebook or its owner, Mark Zuckerberg. We’ve all used Facebook before, right? At the moment, I have the following thought in my mind about Facebook: It is a social platform used only by the elderly! I apologize in advance if I have readers who use Facebook. 😊

They made a big change by changing the name of their group companies to Meta and it was not an easy decision. Nevertheless, they draw a visionary profile when viewed from the outside, as they follow current issues like the universe of Meta.

I cannot give a positive review for the product release notes.

They shared such a short product launch note that I immediately thought they had to pay a price for every word they used! A little effort, a little creativity, a little bit of a regular text.

product release notes

#2: Twitter

I don’t know about you, but the conversations between Elon Musk and Twitter excited me. I believed that someone from a different industry and outside the company would approach the subjects with a different vision.

Details that might have been overlooked could be identified or different approaches and features could be developed. However, for now, the deal does not appear to be complete.

product updates notes
Twitter divided updates into three groups: New, updated, and fixed. Also, you can pick a specific year and month for examining updates.

Now let’s put all that magazine part aside and see what Twitter does with updates. The points they pay attention to when sharing the product release notes are:

Twitter uses a chronologically ordered page for product release notes:

product release notes

You can see the updates under the “What’s New” heading. However, we cannot see any satisfactory information, unfortunately. 😔 The language they use when sharing product release notes is pretty formal for a social media platform. We need to have fun. You are Twitter, be aware of this! 💪

#3: Tumblr

While we appreciate Tumblr’s above mentioned work, here’s something they could improve on: 

Just for a second, I want you to take a look at the examples below. 

Which appeals to you, the example on the left or the example on the right? I think we all know the answer. If something is good, we don’t need to make it any different.

product release notes

I’ve also reviewed other examples of older release notes from Tumblr. I hope they bring their creativity back into this business. 🤸‍♂️

#4: Instagram

Instagram is a digital socializing space where we share our moments. No matter how bad we are, we never share our unhappy moments. Frankly, this sounds a little weird to me, but we can discuss that another day.

Apps are just like empires. They are born, grow, and die. A similar situation occurs when a new application is released. They first attract people’s attention, are used by large masses in daily life, and one day they lose their popularity.

In order to avoid being in this cycle and to maintain its popularity, Instagram continues to develop new features. For example, it was extraordinary to follow the concerts of our favorite musicians live on the platform during the pandemic period.

How do they share these release notes?

product release notes

The part you see above is a section from the product release note shared by Instagram on the web. I didn’t understand much. It would be better if they used simple and non-technical language.

product release notes

The result is similar to the others. Product release notes are an indication of the development of our product, and thanks to these notes, we interact with users and share the history of our product with them. These companies may not consider release notes as an important detail because they are so large.

#5: Amazon

Final shot with one of the biggest companies: Amazon.

Amazon really fascinates me with their next-day delivery service. However, contrary to popular belief, Amazon is not just a collection of stores where you can buy things, it is also a large technology company.

product release notes

Amazon did not write a detailed release note for mobile devices. When I looked at the websites, there were more product release notes for the stores on Amazon. This shows that they care about their business partners as much as their customers. 

Product Release Notes “Template”: Follow These 9 Tips & Strategies to Build Something Epic

The majority of release notes information can be templated into an understandable form. So, the next time when a developer sends you notes about a fixed bug or a new feature, you will both save time.

Instead of receiving a comment from a developer that doesn’t make any sense, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what has changed and how to communicate it to the end-users better.

Here are my personal list of tips and tricks I use to make great release notes!

#1: They > We

Don’t start with “We’ve done this”. Users don’t care what YOU did, they care only what THEY receive from what you’ve done.

You can now [perform this action].

The newly released [X feature] is available for your usage. Now, you’ll be able to [perform this action]

#2: Focus on User

Use “YOU” more often. It is a copywriting trick that instantly transforms the way the textual information is perceived. They will be unconsciously more likely to read the text when they see “you”.

Great news for you! [X feature] lets you collect feedback from your users.
Happy to announce [X feature]  which helps you to avoid data loss.
Save your time with [X feature]

#3: Follow Simple Product Release Notes Templates

Get inspired and write your own product release notes templates!. Software product release notes templates are a great way to save time.

Create those templates and ask you, developers, to write you notes in this format only. This way you’ll avoid misunderstanding and you will exactly know what was changed and how it works, and what goals it tries to accomplish. 

These four release notes templates alone cover 90% of all release notes:

  • Previously X is now Y
  • You can now do X instead of Y
  • X no longer does X, Y when Z, Q, W
  • X no longer does Y. This means you no longer need to do Z

#4: Avoid Being Too Formal

Of course, this depends on your company’s branding. 

However, formal writing is usually long and not straight to the point — making it harder for readers to scan the text. 

Try to use consistent language and avoid being too formal on your release notes template. 

#5: Use Humor When Appropriate

We examined a couple of release note examples and know how it should be. Using fun language can definitely set your release notes apart from other companies. Is it necessary? Maybe companies don’t care about it because it doesn’t make a profit, but if we have a chance to make something more fun, we should evaluate it.

For example, Slack and Tumblr are good examples of this article for writing release notes in a fun way. I wanted to say nice things for Facebook’s notes, but I couldn’t see enough words. 😇

#6: Expand Then Simplify

Good release notes are short and concise. However, to get there expand the text, make sure that it reflects everything a new feature or a bug fix is all about. 

Also, a lot of release notes writing is taking a big amount of information and squeezing it into short paragraphs. Make sure that release notes are not taken out of context.

#7: Have a Style Guide

Understanding your company’s and your clients’ voices is also an important part of creating product release notes. 

We’ve already talked about in-app release note examples that are hilarious and entertaining to read. However, the tone of voice is not suitable for the majority of tech companies — they need a style guide for release notes. 

#8: Know Where To Place Your Product Release Notes

Not every software product has a mobile version, and most companies publish their release notes on a separate page under the support or help section.

Companies strategically bury their release notes and then complain about why nobody reads them. Instead, they just need to learn where to place these updates. 

There are many smart ways to announce product updates. For example, writing a great email introducing product updates or creating a separate blog post specifically for the release notes and updates.

#9: Use Segmentation

One thing that all good product release notes have in common is segmentation.

The positive sides of segmentation:

Another feature of the release notes that made a good impression was that they had segmentation. Thanks to segmentation, users or professionals can easily find what they are looking for.

For example, while the mixed release notes cause us to spend a lot of time, thanks to the release notes collected under the relevant headings, we can easily find the part that interests us.

AnnounceKit and the Segmentation Feature:

Let’s say you own a company with thousands of users. How effective would it be to send the same announcements to all users? I would like to answer based on my own experience: receiving hundreds of notifications or emails that do not concern me is a behavior that distances me from the brand. It’s like trying to sell car perfume to someone who doesn’t have a car. 🚗

Sending announcements or product updates to relevant groups is critical for product adoption and understanding of updates. Let’s examine how AnnounceKit does the segmentation in two examples: 

product release notes
AnnounceKit offers different options and provides the opportunity to share your announcements with the right group.
  1. Add Rules: First of all, you can set various criteria for the announcement you want to send. For example, you are a multinational company and you have a new announcement for your France operation. Why would your employees in America see this announcement? By segmenting by country, you can share your announcement only with your employees in France.
announcekit segmentation 2

2. Choosing segment: Let’s say you have 3 different membership types and you have made an improvement for your premium users who pay the highest membership fee. You can only send your announcement about this update to the relevant people. We call it the magic touch of segmentation! 🧙‍♂️

AnnounceKit: The Announcement App for Product Updates & Software Updates

Like in anything in life, by bringing structure and organization as well as modern technologies we create an easier solution, that is more exciting and useful.

If you’re tired of traditional, boring product release notes that hardly get noticed, it’s time to bring excitement and clarity to your updates with AnnounceKit! 🚀 

With AnnounceKit, you can organize your product and software updates under relevant headings, add a touch of humor and fun, and engage your users like never before. Say goodbye to unnoticed updates and hello to increased product adoption! Let’s make sure your users understand and appreciate all the hard work you put into those updates. Start using AnnounceKit today and deliver your updates in the best way possible!

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