What is the best home for your Product Release Notes?

Should the release notes live in a Help Center (e.g. Zendesk) or on a Community platform (e.g. Telligent).

You should probably begin answering a question like this with "It depends..." because there are so many variables that should be considered. So I'll elaborate on our scenario in order to tighten the scope of this question.

  • We currently use ZenDesk (primarily designed as a ticketing software that has some secondary add-on tools for documentation, and even some community components.)
  • We just purchased Telligent to build a holistic Community that will be used primarily for demand gen (Marketing) but also to help drive business objectives for other teams including Product, Sales, and Customer Success.
  • While most of the community is focused on being a platform for thought leadership and folks who are not customers, there is a single group in the community where our Company will have a voice. This is a place where we will communicate with customers and prospects alike, about all things Canopy (our product).
  • The Product team will be leveraging the community to showcase Feature Ideation forums
    • We will show the stages of product development and solicit customer feedback on the features we are building
    • We will also allow customers to add feature ideas and share feedback/vote on one anothers feedback
  • Sales will be directing prospects to this Canopy focused group to ask questions and get answers from existing Canopy customers, etc. 

So now lets look back at my initial question. We are at a pivotal intersection right now...

Support would like to provide customers a convenient, public place to review release notes. We currently don’t provide public release notes but will soon need a home for them. Right now is an optimal time to review the two main locations where we could host release notes. We could post the Release Notes in the Community, or we could post them in our Help Center. 
  1. Host Notes in the Help Center (Software Speak)
    1. The Help Center is designed to provide specific information and send users on their way feeling empowered, and satisfied with using the information we’ve offered.
  2. Host Notes in the Canopy Group within the Community (Software Speak + Tax Talk)
    1. The Community is designed to provide specific information coupled with strategic programs and engagement loops targeted to hook users to spend more time searching, exploring, and enjoying themselves after they get the information we’ve offered. After they get what they came for we have a toolset that allows us to offer additional value, thus exceeding user expectations.

What do my fellow Community professionals think?

  • We use Jira to manage our sprint, we put all notes there and we give access to the business leaders that we work with on a daily basis. Additionally, we use Yammer, and I post bi-weekly releases to our Digital page on yammer for anyone that wants to see what we have done. 

  • The community I manage is mainly a support community, so we post product documentation and help, along with downloads, in our Knowledgebase (currently on a separate platform that is more suitable for larger files and storage) and then do a lot of cross promotion of content from the Community to the KB and vice versa.  Within each product group we also have a resources page with links to frequently accessed content, wherever that may reside.

    Down the road we are looking to incorporate a federated search in the community so that no matter where the content resides (community, KB, training, main corporate website, etc.) people will be able to find it more easily and in less time.

  • We host release notes are in our developer documentation on Drupal. Our community has 0 documentaiton on it - our pipeline is too large and complex and Telligent wiki (only viable option for us) was assessed by our devs to not be able to handle the volume and dependencies needed.

    I'm with  on the federated search, though. This is something our community has been asking for since day 1 into our developer documentation (and product patches, support KB) to seamlessly search and find robust results without ever leaving the community. We tried scoping out federated search though and the only option was Open Search, which we don't want at all so we let it go until we change our documentation platform (BHaG 2018).