Done right, a changelog can be an invaluable tool for your startup. A great changelog can lead to more feature discovery, user engagement, and even brand awareness.
But what does it mean to “do it right”? What really makes a great changelog? Think about the state of your company’s changelog right now. Can you and your customers understand the content and get to the point? Is it clear what’s new, what’s improved, and what’s coming up? Is it engaging.
Sometimes a little inspiration helps. We’ve put together a list of ten changelogs from modern SaaS companies that made us stand up and take notice.
Supabase is an open-source alternative to Google’s Firebase that helps developers with their backend.
The audience: Software developers
What makes their changelog stand out: The team at Supabase ships insanely fast. Given how much they ship, their monthly release notes manage to give enough context to what’s new and what’s improved without being lengthy. By sharing updates on a monthly cadence, they build trust with their audience through the consistency of their posts.
Additionally, each release note has different interactive elements. They include:
-Videos of team members discussing updates
-Links to other forms on their sites
The takeaways: Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, be consistent when sharing your updates. Add different media forms for better audience engagement and retention.
PlanetScale builds a database-as-a-service offering on Vitess, an open-source sharing middleware system for MySQL.
The audience: Software developers, particularly backend
What makes their changelog stand out: It’s visually engaging from the get-go with its black background and large white font, and color-coded drop-down release notes. The “change is good” slogan elevates it beyond a typical product update section.
Each changelog post generally leads with the feature name and is collapsed by default so it’s easy to scan for what you’re interested in. When you expand a release note, the body content is concise, but also links you to the full documentation, which is useful when you want to learn more.
PlanetScale also publishes regularly, approximately 2-4 times a month. This frequency reflects this team’s high shipping velocity, giving their users confidence in their ability to meet their database needs.
The takeaways: Lead with the feature, include a link to the documentation and post regularly to show off your team’s velocity.
Gorgias is a multi-channel helpdesk for online and e-commerce merchants to integrate.
The audience: Marketers, online and e-commerce merchants, support agents.
What makes their changelog stand out: Like PlanetScale’s, Gorgias’ release notes typically contain just one new feature or subject, like “help center chat” or “interactive voice response phone integration.” One thing they do differently is include a short preview of the post so that users can see a little more before deciding whether to click.
We also love how the Gorgias team often includes clear instructional walk-throughs and screenshots so users know how to enable the new feature - a no-brainer if you’re looking to increase adoption.
The takeaways: Teach users how to use your new features in your posts.
Twilio is a customer engagement platform that powers personalized interactions and trusted global communications to connect brands with their customers.
The audience: Software developers
What makes their changelog stand out: Twilio’s changelog provides a feed-like experience that allows you to filter updates by product.. As seen above, they tend to title each changelog post with the update itself, making it easy to get the gist of the update without having to read the whole thing.
Twilio also includes the release status of the feature, with “Beta” and “GA” tags, allowing users to see at a glance which recently shipped features are still in beta (in case they don’t yet have access).
The takeaways: Include relevant information, like when features are in beta or GA, and useful links to how to upgrade or learn more about a feature.
Figma is a design platform for teams who build products together.
The audience: Product designers
What makes their changelog stand out:
Figma uses Figma (among other channels) to communicate their product updates, which cleverly showcases how users can use their product not just for designing products, but also for building beautiful presentations. It’s incredibly visually engaging.
But that’s not the only thing we love about this changelog: the Figma team does a masterful job showing the user problems and requests that directly tie to the changes they made. They also show an animated gif for each change that shows how it works.
The takeaways: Show what problems a change addresses. Use animated gifs to show the change. Use a medium that your users are already familiar with.
Stripe is a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet. Businesses of every size use Stripe to accept payments and manage their businesses online.
The audience: New startups and public companies looking for payments services
What makes their changelog stand out: Stripe’s changelog is beautifully simple, showing a timeline view of their most meaningful updates by scope. Each update is concise - no more than 10-30 words or so - and tends to lead with the value of the update to the user.
Clicking an update takes you to its corresponding documentation. It also has a menu to filter on the scope, or tags, that you want if you’d like to see updates by scope.
Stripe’s changelog feels like it respects its readers’ time, providing just the right amount of information and an intuitive way to learn more if you want.
The takeaways: Lead with the value and be concise. Make it easy for readers to find and consume the content they’re searching for.
Chakra UI is a modular component library that gives you the building blocks you need to build your React applications.
The audience: Software and app developers building a React application
What makes their changelog stand out: Chakra versions their many components, allowing users to quickly scan to see any updates to the components they use in their React app. This makes troubleshooting issues easier because users can check the latest version and upgrade if necessary.
They also host their changelog in their documentation, which is fitting for their developer audience.
The takeaways: If you’re a platform company, version different components or features to make it easier for users to troubleshoot issues when necessary
Retool helps companies build internal tools fast with drag-and-drop builders that connect to databases and APIs.
The audience: Technology leaders, operations teams
What makes their changelog stand out: Retool’s release notes are organized, scannable, and include interactive graphics for learning. The graphics usually tie directly to the feature that’s updated and shows customers what to enter and where. Each note concludes with emojis users can use to rate their expertise with the release note, and a comment section for feedback.
The takeaways: Include screenshots or interactive elements for easier learning, as well as areas to leave feedback on the notes themselves.
Vercel is a platform for frontend frameworks and static sites, built to integrate with your headless content, commerce, or database.
The audience: Front-end developers
What makes their changelog stand out: Vercel’s changelog posts tend to highlight one major feature with a cover image and a short description of what the feature now allows you to do. This keeps their changelog engaging and to-the-point.
In addition, each post includes the names and photos of the team members who shipped the feature, which celebrates their hard work and gives a more personal touch for users.
The takeaways: Highlight the most meaningful update to keep readers actually wanting to come back to see what’s new. Celebrate your team’s hard work and humanize your changelog for users.
Replay.io is a debugging platform for web developers to record, play, and inspect their software.
The audience: Web developers
What makes their changelog stand out: Replay.io has taken advantage of public platforms and networks to host their release communication, from Medium to Twitter.
Replay.io exemplifies how today’s B2B SaaS companies can disseminate product updates through multiple channels to drive engagement. Twitter, in particular, allows them to not only connect with the people who follow them, but also with the developer community at large. People have the chance to directly converse with internal staff and ask questions, and share and retweet updates.
The takeaways: Be creative with where and how you deploy your changelog updates, meet your audience where they are, and engage with them.