7 Examples Of What Not To Do In Your Changelog and How To Do It Better

Louis Darques

Product @ Jimo

In the fast-paced world of product development, changelogs are often overlooked. But did you know that a well-crafted changelog can be a powerful tool for user engagement and product improvement? In this article, we'll highlight the importance of avoiding changelog mistakes by showing examples and provide a step-by-step guide to transform your changelog practices.

What is a Changelog?

A changelog is a document that provides a chronological list of notable changes made to a software project or product. It typically includes a record of all the updates, bug fixes, enhancements, and new features added to the software. Changelogs are important for keeping track of the evolution of a software project and for communicating changes to stakeholders.

A changelog typically includes the following information:

  1. Version Number: Each entry in the changelog is associated with a specific version of the software. The version number helps users identify which changes were made in each release.

  2. Release Date: The date when the new version was released.

  3. List of Changes: A detailed list of all the changes made in the new version, including new features, improvements, bug fixes, and any other relevant updates.

  4. Categories: Changes are often categorized into sections such as "Added," "Changed," "Fixed," "Removed," etc., to make it easier for readers to understand the nature of each change.

  5. Descriptions: Each change is accompanied by a brief description that explains what was modified and why.

A changelog is an essential tool for developers, testers, product managers, customers, support teams, and documentation writers. It helps keep track of the evolution of the software, communicate updates to stakeholders, and provide accurate information to users.

But changelogs are more than just a list of updates. They are a communication channel between your product team and your users. A well-written changelog can help users understand the value of each update, encourage them to try new features, and provide valuable feedback. On the other hand, a poorly written changelog can lead to confusion, frustration, and missed opportunities for engagement.

7 Mistakes Not to Make in Your Changelogs + Examples

Pitfall 1: Overly Technical Language

Technical language can be a double-edged sword. While it's important to be precise, remember that not all your users are tech-savvy.

Negative Effects

  • User Alienation: Technical jargon can alienate users who are not familiar with the terminology. This can lead to confusion and frustration, and may even deter users from using your product.

  • Poor Communication: Overly technical language can obscure the meaning of your updates, making it difficult for users to understand what changes have been made and why they are important.

Real-World Examples

A changelog entry like "Refactored the X module and optimized the Y algorithm" might make sense to your development team, but for most users, it's just gibberish. A better approach would be "We've improved the speed and reliability of feature X."

Pitfall 2: Ignoring User Feedback

User feedback is a goldmine of information. Ignoring it means missing out on valuable insights that could help improve your product.

Negative Effects

  • Missed Opportunities: User feedback is a goldmine of information. Ignoring it means missing out on valuable insights that could help improve your product.

  • User Disengagement: If users feel their feedback is not being taken into account, they may become disengaged and less likely to provide feedback in the future.

Real-World Examples

If users have been consistently asking for a specific feature in their feedback, but your changelog never mentions any updates or improvements related to this feature, users may feel ignored and undervalued.

Pitfall 3: Sporadic Updates

Consistency is key when it comes to changelog updates. If your updates are sporadic and unpredictable, users may miss important changes or be caught off guard by sudden changes.

Negative Effects

  • User Confusion: If your changelog updates are sporadic and unpredictable, users may miss important changes or be caught off guard by sudden changes.

  • Lack of Trust: Regular updates show users that you are actively working on improving your product. Sporadic updates can erode this trust.

Real-World Examples

If your last changelog update was several months ago, users may wonder whether your product is still being actively developed and supported.

Pitfall 4: Lack of Visibility

Visibility is crucial for effective communication. If your changelog is hidden away and hard to find, users may miss out on important updates.

Negative Effects

  • Missed Information: If your changelog is hidden away and hard to find, users may miss out on important updates.

  • User Frustration: Users may become frustrated if they have to search for your changelog or if they stumble upon changes that were not communicated clearly.

Real-World Examples

If your changelog is buried in your website's footer or tucked away in an obscure corner of your app, it's time to give it a more prominent place.

Pitfall 5: Not Highlighting the Value of Changes

Every change you make to your product has a purpose. If users don't understand the value of a new feature or update, they may not use it.

Negative Effects

  • Underutilized Features: If users don't understand the value of a new feature or update, they may not use it.

  • User Disappointment: Users may be disappointed if they perceive an update as insignificant or irrelevant, even if it actually includes valuable improvements.

Real-World Examples

Instead of simply stating "Updated the user interface", highlight the benefits of this update. For example, "We've updated the user interface to make navigation easier and tasks quicker to complete."

Pitfall 6: Neglecting to Document Small Changes

No change is too small to document. Even small changes can cause confusion if they are not documented.

Negative Effects

  • User Confusion: Even small changes can cause confusion if they are not documented.

  • Missed Opportunities: Small changes and improvements can add up to significant benefits over time. By documenting these changes, you show users that you are constantly working to improve your product.

Real-World Examples

If you've made a small tweak to improve the speed of your app, let your users know! They'll appreciate the improved performance.

Pitfall 7: Inconsistent Formatting

Consistency is key in communication. Inconsistent formatting can make your changelog difficult to read and understand.

Negative Effects

  • User Confusion: Inconsistent formatting can make your changelog difficult to read and understand.

  • Professionalism: A well-formatted, consistent changelog reflects positively on your company's professionalism and attention to detail.

Real-World Examples

If one update is a detailed paragraph and the next is a terse bullet point, your changelog may come across as disorganized and haphazard. Stick to a consistent format for all your updates.

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can make your changelog a powerful tool for user engagement and product improvement

How to Transform Your Changelog Practices: A Step-by-Step Guide

As you just read, crafting an effective changelog is not as simple as it seems. It requires a delicate balance of technical accuracy, user-friendly language, and strategic presentation. It's not just about what you say, but how you say it. And more importantly, how consistently and effectively you communicate it to your users.

So, let's embark on this journey to transform your changelog practices and elevate your product development process to new heights.

Step 1: Simplify Your Language

Why it's important

Technical language can be a double-edged sword. While it's important to be precise, remember that not all your users are tech-savvy. Overly technical language can alienate users who are not familiar with the terminology. This can lead to confusion and frustration, and may even deter users from using your product.

What you win

By simplifying your language, you make your changelogs more accessible to a wider audience. This can lead to better user engagement and a more positive user experience.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Review your changelogs and identify any technical jargon or complex language.

  2. Try to simplify this language or provide clear explanations for technical terms.

  3. Use plain language that is easy to understand. Remember, your goal is to communicate changes to your users, not to showcase your technical expertise.

Step 2: Prioritize User Feedback

Why it's important

User feedback is a goldmine of information. Ignoring it means missing out on valuable insights that could help improve your product. If users feel their feedback is not being taken into account, they may become disengaged and less likely to provide feedback in the future.

What you win

By prioritizing user feedback, you show your users that their opinions matter. This can lead to increased user engagement and loyalty.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Establish a system for collecting and reviewing user feedback.

  2. Incorporate user feedback into your changelogs. Show your users that you are listening to their feedback and making changes based on their suggestions.

  3. Regularly communicate with your users about how their feedback is being used. This can be done through your changelogs, newsletters, or social media.

Step 3: Establish a Regular Update Routine

Why it's important

Consistency is key when it comes to changelog updates. If your updates are sporadic and unpredictable, users may miss important changes or be caught off guard by sudden changes. Regular updates show users that you are actively working on improving your product.

What you win

By establishing a regular update routine, you create a sense of reliability and trust with your users. They will appreciate the predictability and feel more confident in your product.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Decide on a regular update schedule. This could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on your product and team capacity.

  2. Stick to your schedule. Regular updates show users that you are actively working on improving your product.

  3. Communicate your update schedule to your users. This can be done through your changelogs, newsletters, or social media.

Step 4: Increase Changelog Visibility

Why it's important

Visibility is crucial for effective communication. If your changelog is hidden away and hard to find, users may miss out on important updates. Users may become frustrated if they have to search for your changelog or if they stumble upon changes that were not communicated clearly.

What you win

By increasing changelog visibility, you ensure that your users are always up-to-date with the latest changes and improvements. This can lead to better user engagement and a more positive user experience.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Make your changelog easily accessible. This could be through a prominent link on your website or app, or through regular email updates.

  2. Highlight important updates. Use bold text, headers, or color coding to draw attention to important changes.

  3. Regularly promote your changelog. This can be done through your newsletters, social media, or in-app notifications.

Step 5: Highlight the Value of Each Change

Why it's important

Every change you make to your product has a purpose. If users don't understand the value of a new feature or update, they may not use it. Users may be disappointed if they perceive an update as insignificant or irrelevant, even if it actually includes valuable improvements.

What you win

By highlighting the value of each change, you encourage users to explore and use new features or improvements. This can lead to increased user engagement and satisfaction.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Clearly explain the benefits of each change. Instead of simply stating what has changed, explain why the change was made and how it benefits the user.

  2. Use real-world examples or use cases to illustrate the value of each change.

  3. Encourage user feedback on each change. This can provide valuable insights into how well the change is received and whether it delivers the intended value.

Step 6: Document All Changes, Big and Small

Why it's important

No change is too small to document. Even small changes can cause confusion if they are not documented. Small changes and improvements can add up to significant benefits over time. By documenting these changes, you show users that you are constantly working to improve your product.

What you win

By documenting all changes, you create a complete record of your product's evolution. This can be a valuable resource for both your team and your users.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Keep a record of all changes, no matter how small. This includes bug fixes, performance improvements, and minor UI tweaks.

  2. Clearly document the impact of each change. Even if a change seems minor, it may have a significant impact on user experience.

  3. Regularly review and update your changelog to ensure it accurately reflects all changes.

Step 7: Maintain Consistent Formatting

Why it's important

Consistency is key in communication. Inconsistent formatting can make your changelog difficult to read and understand. A well-formatted, consistent changelog reflects positively on your company's professionalism and attention to detail.

What you win

By maintaining consistent formatting, you make your changelog easier to read and understand. This can lead to better user engagement and a more positive user experience.

Step-by-step guide to improve this changelog practice

  1. Decide on a consistent format for your changelogs. This could include headers for each update, bullet points for key changes, and bold text for important information.

  2. Stick to your chosen format. Consistency makes your changelog easier to read and understand.

  3. Regularly review and update your formatting as needed. As your product evolves, your changelog format may need to evolve as well.

How Can Jimo Help You Avoid Changelog Mistakes?

Among the best changelog tools for Saas is Jimo, the game-changer. It's not just about managing your product; it's about enhancing user engagement, fostering loyalty, and facilitating effective decision-making. One of the ways Jimo does this is through its innovative changelog feature.

Jimo's Changelog is designed to transform your product updates into an optimal feature release and update sharing experience. It's not just a list of updates; it's a tool to amplify your feature release impact, create and share a public roadmap, and empower users while gathering valuable feedback.

With Jimo, you can ensure your changelogs are always up-to-date, communicated effectively, and contribute directly to your product evolution. Here's how Jimo can help you avoid common changelog mistakes:

  • Simplify Your Language: Jimo's intuitive interface encourages clear and concise language, making it easier for your users to understand your updates.

  • Prioritize User Feedback: Jimo enables you to collect and integrate user feedback directly into your changelogs.

  • Establish a Regular Update Routine: With Jimo, you can schedule your updates and ensure consistency in your changelog practices.

  • Increase Changelog Visibility: Jimo's changelog feature is designed to be highly visible, ensuring your users are always aware of your latest updates.

  • Highlight the Value of Each Change: Jimo allows you to highlight the benefits of each update, enhancing user engagement.

  • Document All Changes, Big and Small: With Jimo, no update is too small to be documented. Every change matters.

  • Maintain Consistent Formatting: Jimo's changelog feature ensures consistency in your changelogs, enhancing readability and user experience.

By leveraging Jimo's changelog feature, you can avoid common changelog mistakes and enhance your product development process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, good changelog practices are crucial for effective product development and user engagement. By avoiding common pitfalls and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can transform your changelog practices and elevate your product to new heights.

Jimo stands ready to assist you in this journey. With its innovative features and user-centric design, Jimo can help you communicate your product updates more effectively, engage your users more deeply, and leverage your changelog as a powerful tool for product improvement.

So, why wait? Try Jimo today and see the difference it can make in your product development process. Your users will thank you, and your product will thrive. Try Jimo today!

Author

Louis Darques

Product @ Jimo

Product @ Jimo

Product @ Jimo

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