When is a changelog not a changelog?

What do your call your changelog? Perhaps their patch notes, or updates, or release notes? Whatever you call them matters, so we talk a little bit about the more popular options.

No, it’s not a Christmas cracker joke and there’s no punchline, sorry. Instead, it’s time for a blog about terminology. Don’t worry, it’s more interesting than it sounds. Hopefully!

So, why do we use the word changelog?

I get it, we’re called Changecrab, so surely that means we’re devoted to the name changelogs? Well we’re as equally devoted to that as we are to crabs, which ironically is an animal I have a mild phobia off.

We use changelogs so often in the development world that it’s a a word that’s moved over to a more customer-facing role. After all, surely everyone is going to know what to expect when clicking a button that says changelogs? Perhaps, but I’d also propose that as a word it’s dry and technical and unlikely to be clicked by a large percentage of your visitors and for many businesses and audiences, there may be better words to use.

Release Notes - This one is used by some of the giants of the tech world including the likes of Google and Facebook. The word release sounds grander than ‘change’. People connect the word release with big things, even if we look outside of the web world and into things like movie releases, new iPhone releases… releases is a word we connect with big things and if you’re working on a less agile development and are more likely to push larger grand scale changes then using the Release Notes terminology might suit you best.

Patch Notes - Patch notes is very much still used as termnology for desktop applications and video games, but since the advent of mobile apps has seen a steady decline; maybe it’s time to reverse that decline? Patch notes certainly invokes a retro feel and one that many will find oddly comforting, perhaps because it sends us back to the days of getting the latest patch for Ultima online, or perhaps it’s even as simple as patch feeling like a more wholesome, friendly word for whatever reason, patch notes will invoke a different feeling in your users than something more sterile like “changelogs”.

Updates - Not exactly a revolutionary word but one that manages to capture a lot of meaning. If you are posting more than just notes on your software but your company as a wider entity then using “Updates” as your terminology of choice may be a great fit. As a word it doesn’t strongly define what the user should be expecting when they click that link, but that can be of great benefit, it means whatever you present in your notes won’t be a shock to them.

Notes - Another more generic option that doesn’t directly entail you having to have one particular type of changelog on the other end of the link. Notes is a friendly open term and using it can present an image of an evolving startup with creative people behind it. It’s far from a corporate terminology and you’ll want to avoid using it in places it might get confusing, but another potential never the less.

Changelogs - Alright fine! Changelogs is changelogs. It describes what the user will end up viewing and if you are more developer or tech focused it will be the one your customers are most used to seeing. That’s why we’ve used it - it’s simply the most common term amongst developers and business owners. There isn’t anything wrong with using changelogs and in the majority of cases… it might also be the right choice, but hopefully from this article you can see that although often the go-to option, it’s not the only one.

It may seem that diving into the idiosyncrasies of how your customers might perceive an individual word is overkill but it all plays into larger ideas of brand and visual identity and seemingly simple changes like this can lead to major decisions being made by your customers in regards to their trust and ultimately their buying decisions on your company.

Whatever you decide to call them, you can set up a free changelog \ release notes \ updates \ patch notes system in minutes with ChangeCrab.

Thanks for reading!


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