The iOS, and I assume Android, platform provides us with a few precious characters for each release. There’s no guarantee a user will read them, but, if they do, you had better make sure that you’ve treated that space with the utmost of love and attention and filled it with amazing words for your users!
The Important Stuff
This is the bit of text the user can see without scrolling irrespective of the responsive display.
This should be the information that is most important to your users.
Don’t put placeholder or arguably pointless text here like “Thanks for using the app!” “We’re always looking for ways to make things better” “ We release every two weeks!” “Thank you for your helpful feedback” “Bug fixes” (we know you fix bugs) That’s precious space you’re filling with words that have no value to the user or your app!
Questions to ask yourself:
What is the one thing your users will care most about in this release?
What action do you want to invite them to take?
Write with the user goals in mind, always ⚽
Give the user the right level of detail in the right place at the right time ✍️
You have limited space, make every character count (check out your voice and tone guide) 🔡
Consider signposting the user at the end of your app release notes ➡️
I personally think we can do away with stating things like “bug fixes” unless you’re going to give details on which bugs. All software companies fix bugs 🐛
I was driving to see my Gran the other day musing over recent events when what I can only assume was a Pterodactyl flew across my car, depositing on my windscreen at least three days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve since had to top up my screen-wash.
You know the drill, you’ve spent hours composing what you consider to be beautiful instructions for the product to assist the user in their hour of need. You’ve gone through all the review gates (that you likely set up) and you’re ready to go live.
If you’re new to the business or the role, identify your stakeholders, include them early and get them on board. Find out from your colleagues who is a closet Technical Writer and who always has an opinion as well as the regular list of stakeholders that you’re expecting to work with.
You need to identify their drivers, what makes them tick. Have they been left out in the past? Do they feel like they need to “add value” in all areas of the business so they swing by ‘cos words are easy? Do they want to be you? Do they like to have fingers in all the pies? You have to talk to them!
In fact you have to talk to everyone, leave no stone unturned in your hunt for stakeholders. You need to check behind the sofa, under the rug, and most definitely in the box room. You don’t need to make everyone a reviewer (no one has time for that), but you do need to identify the people that not only care, but are in a position to give a sign off on your creations.
Okay first up, we’ve all been there, do not have a pity-party. It does no one any good and just serves to make you wallow in your own pit of gloom, eat pizza and get that really judgemental message from Netflix.
Instead, pick yourself up and ask yourself why the fly-by happened. I bet that if you really soul searched you could find something that you can directly change and influence that would dramatically reduce this from happening again.
However, we’ve covered that. So now it’s happened, job one (we’re not doing that pity-party remember), clean up! Now I don’t mean like a Roomba would when the dog deposits a gift in the kitchen; don’t go smearing it everywhere. Instead, graciously pick it up, examine it (I am regretting using this analogy now), deposit it in the nearest bin, and wash your hands (‘cos, eww gross).
Now you need to engage with the pooper to explain what you’re going to do to address not only their concerns with your creation, but future ones. For this one, I strongly recommend that you try and avoid jumping into defensive mode. Signs that you’re in that mode include the urge to explain your processes, justify your methods or wave other reviewer’s feedback at them. If you find yourself there (we all have, I certainly have), take a step back and ask yourself what you want from the situation. What you want is a stakeholder that is your ally early on in the process.
When all is said and done, stakeholders who review your content (invited, or otherwise) are both your biggest advocates, and at times, your worst nightmare. Take a step back, ask why they’re giving the feedback and then turn it around so it’s on your terms next time. It’s your content, you’re the Technical Writer. Own it and accept that it is, and always will be, a shared vision.