Changelog Designs For Twitter

How We Design Release Notes for Twitter

Est Reading Time: 3 min

Devon Bleibtrey

Sep 6, 2020

While developing our Twitter Release Note Integration, we reviewed hundreds of changelog tweets and talked with multiple teams about why they publish notes to twitter and how they structure them.

IntelliJ IDEA Release Note TypeScript 4.0 Release Note

There are plenty of ways to share release notes on Twitter. The three most common practices are full note, minimalist, and hook notifications. Full note tweets include the complete details of the latest release notes. The minimalist method announces that a release has occurred and provides followers with a link to its changelog. Hook notifications provide some teaser information highlighting key changes made in the release and aim to give followers just enough information to be valuable to them while limiting exposure, encouraging them to engage with the tweet, or clicking the link for additional information.

Prysmatic Labs Alpha Release Note Prysmatic Labs Alpha Release Note

We've chosen to design our changelog posts to Twitter around these notification methods to let teams use the notification method that aligns with their release management process. For organizations that tend to have bigger releases with more highlights than can fit into a single tweet, a minimalist notification enables a team to notify their community that an update occurred and inform them of all the changes via their hosted release notes.

For teams with smaller releases, a full or hook notification gives your community a place to socialize about the release. Having your community socialize about the release helps:

  • Gather immediate feedback from active users
  • Drive adoption of new features
  • Promote verification of bug fixes
  • Spread news of the release to other users and different communities
  • Increase the quality of traffic coming to your full changelog

Design Objectives When designing what changelogs look like when published to Twitter, we have a few core objectives. We wanted to:

  • Increase engagement with release notes (comments, likes, retweets, link clicks)
  • Effectively communicate changes with limited overhead to customers and their community
  • Accommodate long-running and rapid release cycles
  • Align with Twitter culture and styling

With all of our integrations, we work to deliver the right information, to the right people, in the way they expect, based on their chosen medium of engagement. Twitter has a strict culture centering around 280 characters and favors imagery and visual stimulation supporting the characters displayed.

Since the average changelog is 270 characters, and some can be hundreds of pages long, we developed a set of algorithms to condense the release note's content to about 250 characters. These algorithms give us enough space also to include a link to the full set of notes, which takes up 23 characters.

For the extremely long changelogs, we found that it was easier for users to navigate to a page containing the full set of release notes rather than summarizing them into 250 characters. This led to the minimalistic notification method.

These initial design iterations are just our first attempt at helping teams connect with their community on twitter. We're continuing to iterate on the designs based on what's working for our customers. If you have any thoughts or ideas for improvements, please let us know :)

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