Effective communication of digital product updates is just as crucial to the customer experience as the update itself.
Reasons to announce product updates:
- Keep users informed about the latest improvements and bug fixes
- Let users know their feedback matters
- Build user confidence and skills
A successful business can grow and maintain mutually beneficial customer relationships, and a big part of that is keeping customers in the loop about updates. To that point, avoid blindsiding customers with a new feature or update out of the blue.
It can be especially jarring for an experienced user to log into their account one day and see massive changes. Even though interface design intends to be intuitive, so much of the user experience involves learned behavior and familiarity. So product update materials should be carefully planned, crafted, and disseminated to minimize negative customer emotions like confusion and frustration.
Even if an update provides the most technically efficient improvements ever, its overall effect will suffer if the rollout goes poorly.
It's also important to note that the average person does not seek out product updates independently. For example, think about how many times you or someone you know has put off an automatic computer update because it's annoying or doesn't seem necessary. For the same reason that most people don't like surprises, the change that comes with an update can be unexpected and overwhelming.
Companies can combat common product pitfalls by controlling the messaging, providing a timeline or countdown for an update, and introducing changes incrementally. If users feel like a part of the process, they will be more equipped to handle the changes that come with it.
Another reason to keep users informed of product changes is to make them aware of ongoing efforts towards improvement and growth. Some companies get stuck in the status quo and become complacent, and as a result, users can feel left behind and go to a competitor.
Product updates also let users know their opinions matter, and their feedback is valued. The whole idea behind an update is to improve the user experience, and existing customer input is essential for quality advancements.
The communication methods for new developments require considerable thought as well. Social media posts and email newsletters are good ways to glimpse what is coming and provide a time frame for updates. There are also tools like Hubspot and Intercom that can generate personalized communications for customers.
A product's homepage is another prime space to display a notification or advertisement that grabs the user's attention and provides a call to action. Another option is a dedicated location on the product's website for release notes and to showcase additional help resources.
Tutorials, product tours, and webinars are just a few additional ways to educate users and speed up the learning curve for product updates. Because webinar audiences fall into one of two categories - prospective or current customers - it's crucial to know your audience and create content geared to specific groups. It's beneficial to provide multiple learning options for the user because everyone absorbs information differently.
Keep in mind that you must plan ahead when scheduling updates so that users stay informed at all times and your product can reach a new level of customer loyalty.
3Digit is a small agile product design shop based outside of Baltimore, MD. We focus on designing user-centered digital products for mobile and web applications, as well as physical prototyping for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. Our approach relies on research and rapid prototyping to help businesses turn their ideas into reality.