Software Release Notes Template
Looking for a simple but effective software release notes template to communicate product changes to your customers?
You’re in the right place.
In this article, we cover a brief recap on what software release notes then showcase some of the best practices with great examples from SaaS products.
- A software release notes template is a simple document that SaaS companies use to document any changes to their product.
- Release notes templates are used to communicate: product updates, bug fixes, new features, and other small or big changes that happen in your product
- Elements of release notes template date, release number, overview, issues summary, resolution, and impact for the end-user.
- Best practices for writing release notes templates: avoid jargon, make it user-friendly, keep a consistent format, include images and gifs, and gather user feedback.
- After writing a software release note, you can share it with users in your app, via email, your website, or on social media.
- Jump straight to see some release notes examples from Userpilot, UiPath, Hubspot, Amplitude, Retool, ClickUp, Mailchimp, Teamwork, and Sketch.
- If you’re looking for a way to distribute to your users get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can announce your updates in-app.
What is a software release notes template?
A software release notes template is an easy-to-follow document that you can use to communicate product changes to customers. These changes include bug fixes, feature updates, app updates, and new features.
These days, SaaS companies ship out solutions early and continue to make iterations based on feedback from their target market.
And they use software release notes to help internal teams and customers keep track of these iterations.
Why are software release notes important?
It keeps customers informed
Software release notes serve as a direct communication line between you and your customers, bringing them up to speed on product changes and updates.
Users expect updates from you, especially when they request fixes so writing release notes and sharing them with your customers helps in keeping them informed on what’s new in your product.
Retain frustrated users and set the right expectations
Using a buggy product every day can create a lot of friction. But what’s more frustrating is when the user keeps letting you know about the bugs and you do nothing.
Frustrated users are more likely to churn, but if you constantly communicate updates on bug fixes and re-engage users with release notes written, you will set the right expectations and start building strong relations with them.
They’ll know you are doing your best to improve the product and offer them the best experience.
What should you include in your release notes?
Great release notes include enough information that captures the core of the changes you’ve made, either the bug fixes or a new feature release.
While there isn’t a universal release notes template, most companies include the following information in their technical documentation:
- Header: date and number of the release and the product name
- An overview: highlighting the key information in your documentation plus relevant links to details.
- Issue Summary: a short description of the bug or enhancement for each issue raised.
- Resolution: changes made to get rid of the issue
- Impact: changes users need to make to accommodate the new release (configurations, setting up prerequisites, upgrades, etc)
Best Practices for Writing Software Release Notes?
One of the most important goals of a product release note is to communicate the value of product improvements to the customer.
If you want to accomplish this, you should keep these tips at the back of your mind as you document product updates:
- Write in clear and concise language, avoiding technical jargon
- Make it user-centric
- Be consistent in the release note format you use and use your brand personality.
- Make the content educational
- Refer to external data sources
- Include videos, images, and gifs to make them more engaging
- Mention any revisions to your release notes
- Invite users to leave feedback
Channels to distribute your software release notes
You write release notes to keep users informed.
But that doesn’t mean good release notes should be just a one-way direct line, broadcasting a message.
Great release notes engage existing users, gets them excited about news feature or a new product release. Without engagement, you can’t understand what your users think of the new features added and how much does it help.
That’s why it’s not enough to write release notes for documenting purposes only.
You also need to make sure they get to your users and drive engagement. Using multiple distribution channels will help with that.
Here are the most common ones you should consider:
2. Email release notes: use email to engage with existing users and churned ones at the same time (if the missing features that made users churn were just added to the product, sending them the news might help reactivate them.
3. Website release notes: here you can add more details and instructions, plus it’s always a good practice to keep all your release notes in one place for users to easily access them
4. Social media release notes: great for building excitement, featuring an important update or new feature, and attracting potential new users ( you shouldn’t distribute all release notes on social media, filter the relevant ones)
9 Software release notes templates you can draw inspiration from
Now that you understand what release notes are and the best practices for writing release notes, here are some examples from top Saas companies to help you get started in writing your own.
Userpilot in-app product release notes
It’s an easy way to get your user’s attention and direct them to the right place where they can read more about the changes.
Short and simple- on-point title and call to action, an image to help users ”see” the changes too, and a short summary in one sentence on what’s new.
UiPath’s product release notes
UiPath includes a table of content with its changelog that allows users to navigate the updates included in the current release and easily access previous documentation.
Hubspot’s website product release notes
Hubspot has been around for some time, so its product has evolved significantly.
To help users keep track of these changes, Hubspot SaaS release notes are arranged chronologically with an easy-to-use navigation system and actionable CTAs.
Every Hubspot documentation preview contains simple visual elements like screenshots and images that make them more engaging and interactive compared to plain texts.
In addition, every update has a simple, actionable title that shows the user what they can do with Hubspot rather than boring descriptions.
The lesson you can learn from Hubspot is your product update shouldn’t read like a long-form blog post. Your changelog is not your blog – it should go straight to the point and show how your product is better.
Sketch product release notes
Sketch product release notes follow a simple layout and prompt users to take action by upgrading their software in order to benefit from the enhancements.
You have a detailed description of all new enhancements and bug fixes and a clear call to action.
Teamwork future product release notes
Teamwork uses product roadmaps to keep users in the loop about product changes, including future feature releases and updates.
This is great because it’s a simple way of not only telling people what changed but also what it’s coming soon.
Amplitude product release notes
Amplitude uses screenshots and short videos to provide a visual representation of what users can expect.
When users view their software release notes, the first thing that pops up is an animated intro that explains the new feature before diving into the application to show the feature “in action.”
MailChimp’s website product release notes
In the “what’s new” section of the website, users can find updates on MailChimp’s product including new features, bug fixes, and other changes.
Their product updates are presented in a very clean, simple, and visual style that is easy to comprehend.
There’s a simple navigation system for users who want to skim through months.
The updates are all very simple with short, actionable titles that get to the point of the update. For example, instead of “Update to domains” they say “We’ll help you find the right custom domain for your business”.
Retool product release notes
Retool categorizes their updates as “Minor,” “Improvement,” and “New.”, making it easy for users to view the information they want.
This helps users save time as they can focus on specific details such as “new features” instead of reading tons of information.
Retool also creates an avenue for users to provide feedback on software improvements more than giving product updates.
Each release note section has a spot for users to leave feedback, enabling Retool to capture user feedback.
ClickUp product release notes
ClickUp’s release notes, also called ClickUpdates, are fun to read.
Apart from its colorful and engaging layout, the documentation is written in easy-to-understand language. They also list their writers to let users know that the content is human and build a deeper connection with their readers.
Writing great release notes is the best way to not only document these changes for users and your team but also drive engagement with your new product and features.
It keeps everyone on the same page regarding product improvements and enables customers to anticipate what is next with your SaaS solution.
Now you know what a great release note looks like. If you’re looking for a way to distribute to your users get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can announce your updates in-app.