RE: How do you announce new features?

Subject: RE: How do you announce new features?
From: Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2012 13:49:25 -0600

I believe there are two audiences that need to receive information about new

First, these 'cool' new features need to be defined as cool so that the user
that doesn't use the software daily would be impressed. Mike pointed out
Marketing should be involved and for these new users, I 100% agree. But I'd
go a step further and say it is our job to at least consider, if not to
implement, a means for those 'cool' new features to shake down to the
everyday user. This should come through as release notes or end-user
documentation or a cheat sheet or something.

I'm thinking of a simple example. Say Suzy Clerk has to enter comments on
100 records a day. In version 1.0, Suzy has to select a record and click the
Change button. A new screen displays. On this new screen, she clicks Enter
Comments. A pop-up window displays. She enters her comments. Three clicks to
get to where she does her job.

Now, in version 2.0, she can right-click a record and select Enter Comments.
The same pop-up window displays in one click. You just saved Suzy two clicks
per record so, net, 200 clicks a day. That's efficiency in the software that
Suzy needs to know.

Now, our job is to communicate that we can save her those 1000 clicks the
first day she uses Version 2.0. If this was only in a Marketing flyer, would
Suzy read the marketing info? Maybe. Maybe not. That's what you need to
figure out. What if she's a lower level user who doesn't make decisions
regarding whether to even upgrade - maybe she just comes in every day and
does the task of entering comments every day. She doesn't even know what
version of OS she runs - she doesn't care. Maybe Suzy's boss's boss makes
the decision whether to upgrade to version 2.0 and that person doesn't have
a clue that Suzy Clerk clicks so many clicks a day. What else could Suzy do
if she could finish her work in 4 hours instead of 8 (no idea how long it
takes to enter 100 comments - this is just for the sake of argument.)

So, I guess, your question has no direct answer and will depend upon how you
communicate with the "Suzy Clerk" user so that she doesn't hear about this
new functionality at the end of the week when she's already clicked 1000
times more than she would otherwise need to, had she known about this new
feature. That's when we, as technical communicators, ask, 'what is the best
way to let her know?' Does it go in the UI as some sort of message? It may
mean working as a collaborative group with QA, Marketing, Development, or
someone else.

On 11/7/2012 9:13 AM, Bowes, Rebecca wrote:
> When your company releases a new version of software, how do you announce
its new features?

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How do you announce new features?: From: Bowes, Rebecca
Re: How do you announce new features?: From: Mike Starr

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