Changelogs are important tools for any company to have. While we’ve written about what changelogs are and how to create good release notes, we haven’t discussed different changelog software platforms and their benefits.
Keep reading to discover what makes a good changelog and how each of our top six changelog software platforms (including UserVitals) can help you create your best changelog yet.
All About Changelogs
Changelogs are chronological lists of all updates and releases for your product. This includes all changes, bug fixes, and everything in between.
While creating and maintaining a changelog can seem daunting, it’s an incredibly vital way for many companies—especially startups—to connect with their customers and keep them involved with the product. It also helps boost transparency between the company and their shareholders and customers alike, creating stronger ties with both in the process.
What Makes A Good Changelog?
While every company’s ideal changelog will be different, there are a few guidelines to help you put together your best changelog possible.
Keep it Clean and Concise
Info-heavy changelogs can be counterintuitive and cause more harm than good as they can lose your customers’ attention. Make sure you’re not over-explaining your updates, but explain things precisely and with the right language. One way to do this is keep changelog entries shorter on the main page and then add links to longer updates if users want to read them.
Break Up the Text
Large walls of text can turn customers off from your changelog and make it hard to read. Instead, break up your text by using shorter paragraphs, headings and images as well as different text formatting such as lists, bold and italics. This can also help readers skim updates to quickly get up to speed on updates or, conversely, capture their attention for longer.
Tailor it to Your Customers
First and foremost, changelogs are meant to help your customers better understand the changes and updates you’ve made to your product and how they benefit them. They’re not meant for people who are already familiar with the inner workings of your company. As such, it’s important to make sure that the language you’re using is targeted to customers and not too heavy on technical jargon.
Likewise, it’s also important to make sure you’re only including what’s necessary. If the details in your changelog entry aren’t necessary for your user to know in order to help them understand how the update works, keep them out.
Getting feedback on your product and its updates can be one of the best ways to find out what your customers are most excited for and what to prioritize next. While options like feature voting may not be helpful, adding a space for your users to give their opinion on your product can help point you in the right direction and help you plan out next steps.
Our Top 6 Changelog Software Platforms
Now that we’ve gone over the key features of good changelogs, let’s discuss our top six changelog software platforms and how they measure up—in terms of both the good and the bad.
LaunchNotes is a changelog platform used by many large companies to easily set up release notes, but public and private. It includes both a changelog widget and dedicated, customizable subdomain so your customers can access it however they want. It also supports integration with apps like Slack and many other tools your team may use and sends updates via email and social media if you prefer.
Furthermore, LaunchNotes also helps you collect feedback on changelog updates and roadmap features so you can get a more rounded picture of your users’ opinions.
While LaunchNotes can easily be customized to suit your company, it doesn’t offer any additional places for customer feedback, making it hard to gauge any updates or additional info your users may have.
Beamer is trusted by many large companies for creating release notes, and is a great option for your product. Its text editor allows for heavy customization, and everything is located in one convenient place to make things more efficient; it even shows up on your site in a sidebar so customers can see updates in-app. It also allows customers to react to and respond to updates in order to give feedback.
While Beamer can be great for your company, its functionality is slightly limited. They don’t allow for custom domains or integrations with your site. Furthermore, while it does allow for user feedback, the feedback is limited only to comments on release notes themselves.
Headway is a changelog platform aimed at keeping your customers informed about product updates. It includes both a dedicated public changelog page and a changelog widget for your site so customers can easily view your release notes.
Headway also offers a lot in terms of customization in terms of branding, text formatting and custom categories. Furthermore, it also allows integrations with apps like Slack and Twitter so you can keep users updated on social media platforms as well.
While Headway is a great option, it is limited in terms of its scope. While it’s certainly helpful for creating a changelog, it doesn’t offer anything in terms of feedback management, and it also doesn’t allow for customer feedback on changelog items either.
AnnounceKit is a clean, aesthetic release notes and customer feedback solution for many different types of teams. It includes in-app changelog widgets as well as a custom feedback subdomain, and allows customers to leave feedback on updates to gauge your users’ opinions on different changes.
AnnounceKit also allows you to segment your users so you can choose which groups can view specific changelog updates, meaning users can only see the updates most relevant to them.
While AnnounceKit can be very helpful for many teams, it is limited in terms of automation. Likewise, feedback is gathered solely through the platform itself, therefore missing important information in the process.
ReleaseNotes is a great, clean option for the release notes of many different types of teams. It includes both a changelog widget and a dedicated changelog subdomain for easy access, and has many different customization options. It also allows customers to get updates via email (and choose which ones they receive), and share updates they like on social media as well.
Unfortunately, while ReleaseNotes is excellent for creating a changelog, it doesn’t have much support for customer feedback, meaning you can’t get the full picture of your users’ needs.
UserVitals is one of the best all-in-one changelog and feedback management platforms available. It automatically collects information from several different sources (for instance, a feedback widget, customer portal and from integrations such as HelpScout, Slack and Gmail), and we even have a Google Chrome extension to help you bring in feedback wherever you find it on the web.
This feedback, referred to as individual Insights, can then be sorted and organized into Stories based on type, source, feature and much more. These stories can then be used to create a roadmap and influence your changelogs, which we host on a customized subdomain.
Our changelogs are clean and highly formattable with headings, text formatting, images and much more. UserVitals also has a changelog widget so you can showcase your latest product releases directly within your application. Furthermore, visitors and existing customers can subscribe to updates to get notified of new product updates via email so they’re always up to date.
UserVitals is still in beta mode, so you’ll need to sign up for our demo until our full launch. But this also means that we are actively fine-tuning our service on our users’ feedback, so you’ll have a say in how our product grows and be able to watch it expand.