When we talk about release notes we necessarily talk about usefulness, trends, devs vs non-devs communication, version control, terminology, features updates and therefore, drama.
Getting the release notes ready is one of the most tedious, unkind yet important tasks across technical teams. No one wants to do it but someone has to otherwise, users will probably overwhelm support with questions and the technical community will find very hard to integrate with your products or even just engage with them.
If you surf the internet trying to find changelogs, features updates or anything similar to what we call release notes, you'll discover a whole world of possibilities. Some companies like them bold, with a marketing wink and in form of blog posts. Others like them in form of issue list with the solved tickets. There isn't a single way to go, in this case, we have to talk about user and writer preferences.
When I am a user
To be 100% honest, I dislike most release notes I find out there.
In my perfect world, I would get smart notifications with only what I need to know about the release that just got out. If I happen to need more information, I would love to be able to navigate a simple yet clean index of versions so I could quickly understand how to proceed.
Getting your IA right here is extremely important .
- I want the release notes to be clean and clear.
- I want enough information but I don't need to know all the small internal details.
- I want to navigate a clear index of legacy release notes because I might need it.
- I want them to look sexy because I like cute stuff. This is not applicable to all users.
When I am a writer
Some of you might think that the process of getting the release notes ready is not too bad, it can't be that bad right? Well, it depends on several factors.
Keep in mind that the period that spans across a release is quite hectic. Even though your team has a roadmap, that doesn't mean that the results will be as expected, features might be left out and critical changes might be pulled in the last minute. It's impossible to create a technical documentation or the release notes before it's almost release time, that's a life fact.
- I want to know everything about the upcoming changes.
- I want to be informed if something changes or gets pulled off 1 minute before the release goes out.
- I need to be practical but I understand that the release notes are a selling channel as well as a support channel.
- I want my devs to be aware of the relevance that the release notes have.
- I don't want to write the release notes.
- I rather go have a hamburger than figuring out the release notes.
Seriously, it's not that bad, its a matter of knowing what you want.