Ooh, something new to read

Great Release Notes

The little red notification badges on my home screen elicit different responses depending on the app they belong to. Mail is most likely to cause anxiety. Twitter? Excitement. Snapchat? Curiosity. The App Store? Hope.

With app updates come the hope of new features to improve my experience as a user. However, there’s the more tantalizing hope that I might get something good to read. I always read the release notes for updated apps. Part of it is me being a curious product manager keeping an eye on how other companies communicate with users, and part of it is me being a user that enjoys a bit of delight as a reward for my loyalty.

Release notes are a really interesting engagement opportunity to me — most people don’t read them, but those that do represent a highly targeted audience of very engaged users. Every company with an app has to write them, and I love to see who treats it like an opportunity instead of a chore. There’s a desire to see better release notes from some users, and given the sorry state of most release notes, companies that do it well can set themselves apart pretty quickly.

In its latest update, Medium composed a haiku to tell users about the features and bugs addressed. It’s a pleasant change of pace from “Various bug fixes and improvements.”

As a thank you to companies that take the time to write great release notes, and as a service to my fellow release note readers, I set up Great Release Notes. Inspired by sites like Little Big Details, it’s a simple website to celebrate the best bits of developer microcopy and provides an archive of examples for companies who want to be better at it. I’ll keep adding examples as I find them, but if you see an example of great release notes, feel free to send them my way.

Do you read release notes?