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How to write a changelog?

March 30, 2023 - Written by Fraz Ahmed

We live in a rapidly changing world that advances every moment in ways we never imagined. Our lives are becoming more and more digital with each passing day. A big part of this change is software and apps launching daily and making our lives easy. But in such a fast-changing environment, this software and apps become obsolete quickly. Therefore, they need constant software updates to stay relevant and meet users’ requirements to keep them satisfied.  

The question here is how will a manager ensure he stays on top of this task? First of all, he needs to come up with an excellent product vision and product strategy. With this, he will clearly understand the measures he must take to deliver a perfect software service. Then, when the time comes to post product updates, a manager will inevitably need a good Changelog app. 

But wait! What exactly is a change log?

A changelog - sometimes known as a release note or product board - is a record of all the important changes made to a software or app. This changelog keeps the internal team, as well as the external users, informed about what modifications were made and why. There are many types of changelogs, such as software updates, latest versions, bug fixes, crash fixes, improvements, and many more. 

And why is it so important anyway? 

Changelogs can be considered one the most important product manager tools because it is valuable for all parties - the software developers, the managers, and the software users. To developers, it gives an organized view of the developments they have already done, are doing, or plan to do in the future. Thus, changelogs make tracking and navigating through posts easy for internal teamwork.

For users, it means trust and confidence in the software or app they are using because regular software updates show them that their voices or ideas are not only being heard by the software creators but are also being implemented. This signifies to users that their ideas and opinions are worthy and valuable for the creators to be actualized.

Regular and improved change logs can greatly improve customer satisfaction, which is integral to the product management job description. Customers are delighted to see that any given app is better serving its purpose for them. Hence changelogs are important for managers to perform their job and deliver good results efficiently. 

How to a write good changelog?

However, it is crucial to understand that the quality of a changelog post is closely tied to how well of an impact it will create. Unless a changelog is well presented, it will not create the desired impact. So, let’s take a closer look at some key elements that will help you write your next changelog effectively.

Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

1. Begin with the basics: 

First things first, always make sure that you include the version of your software or product in the changelog post. The version number should be the top thing in your document, followed by the date of release. This will give readers a clear picture of what the whole post is all about.

2. Sort similar posts together:  

Sort changelogs of similar nature into one category. Put bug fixes in one category, for example. Similarly, make categories for other changes like added features, removed features, improvements, crash fixes, etc. This way, readers will know what the main focus of the changelog is.

3. Keep the language simple: 

Try your best to use simple language that all types of users will understand. Using technical jargon will limit the number of people who can understand the changelog post, defeating the purpose of writing it. Sweet and simple will do the job. 

4. Purpose of the changelog: 

Always mention the purpose of the changelog to help it make more sense to the reader. For example, write briefly about the bug report or the request ticket that caused the change in the software. This will tell readers why the change was made and how it will benefit them.

5. Use reverse chronological order: 

All your latest changes should show first, with older ones following behind. A user is always interested in the latest news and updates rather than looking at old updates. Not just this, it will also reflect on your customers that your workforce is fast-paced and up-to-date with the tech world.

6. Use a consistent format: 

Pick your changelog's size, font, alignment, and tone at the beginning, and use that for every post. Doing this will make your changelog post more professional, readable, and organized. A consistent style in all your posts will also make it easy for users to skim through.

7. Make it quick to read: 

One more way to increase the readability of your changelog is to use bullet points. This will make skimming and reading quicker. Simply summarize all important details in bullet form and save everyone’s reading time.

8. Don’t forget to be accurate: 

Be clear about what information you want to deliver to your users, and stick to just that. Refrain from incorporating other details into your changelog post, as this will create confusion. Other than being accurate, make sure to provide complete information so the readers do not have any questions in mind.

9. Include images and examples: 

If possible, try to include some screenshots or examples in your changelog. Doing this will significantly increase the clarity of the message and will give readers a quick view of what exactly the change is. This can be very useful if you are conveying a change that is difficult or lengthy to describe in words.

10. Update regularly:  

Lastly, don’t forget to update your changelogs frequently. As soon as a software update comes up or there is any other enhancement, add it promptly to your changelog without fail. This will ensure that developers, managers, and users are on the same page and well-informed about the latest happenings of the software. 

The points mentioned above sum up your short guide to writing professional and effective changelogs. Follow these guidelines and best practices the next time you write and create a clear, concise, and accurate changelog that will keep developers, managers, and users well informed. 

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