How to Announce UI Updates to Your Customers and Drive SaaS Product Growth

Every SaaS company implements UI updates from time to time, but how should they announce UI updates to customers without overwhelming them?

In this article, we’ll share actionable tips on how to announce product updates to your customers to drive product growth.

TL; DR

  • UI updates are changes to the user interface (UI) of a product to improve its look and feel. This could be as simple as changing buttons or simplifying navigation.
  • How often you should update your user interface depends on your product, the market, and your users’ expectations.
  • There’s a need for UI redesign when your product has an outdated look, low engagement and retention rates, or users leave negative feedback on it.
  • Communicate product updates with in-app notifications using UI patterns like modals, slideouts, banners, and tooltips.
  • Combine in-app notifications with product release emails to reach every user and keep them up-to-date on product updates.
  • Share product updates on social media to reach a larger audience. Choose the right social media to post on, and then, create engaging posts to catch people’s attention.
  • Announce new updates on your website: a “what’s new” section or a static website notification banner works fine.
  • Make your product roadmap public to communicate upcoming changes to your digital platform.

Best UI updates practices:

  • Audit your current features to see what’s working, what’s not, and how to make improvements.
  • Define your end goal for a product update. Track KPIs like engagement, bounce rate, etc. to know if all set goals are being met.
  • Test the new feature on a small user segment before releasing it to your entire user list.
  • Run A/B testing on every user segment to discover which in-app announcement works best.
  • After users interact with your new release, trigger a short survey to learn about their experience. Then, act on it to improve the product.
  • Want to make in-app product announcements code-free? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can get started today!

What is a UI update?

A UI update is a change to the user interface (UI) of a product to make it easier to use, more intuitive, and visually pleasing.

An update could be as simple as changing an icon or as complex as a complete overhaul. Regardless, UI updates can improve users’ experience, increase customer engagement, and boost conversions.

How often should you update your user interface design?

Short answer: it depends. There are a lot of factors to consider — including the product, the market, and your users’ expectations.

Here’s a better approach: If your product is new to the market, it’s easy to make changes. You can add new features and test different modern designs.

But as the product matures, it’s best to slow down updates and focus on functionality to keep your customers engaged.

What are the main reasons for UI redesign?

Redesigning an app’s UI may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Here are some:

Outdated look and feel

An outdated UI design can negatively influence your product’s credibility and result in a terrible user experience.

Low engagement and retention rates

Low engagement and retention point back to usability issues in your product. A redesign can help correct these issues and contribute to your product growth.

Negative customer feedback on current user interface design

As a customer-centric company, feedback should be at the heart of your decisions.

Negative feedback means one thing: your UI design is difficult to understand. See it as an opportunity for product improvement and do your best to create a more user-friendly design.

New features and product upgrades

Adding more features to your product may require you to make some changes to your main user interface in order to accommodate those features, and make them accessible/visible to customers.

What are the business benefits of UI updates?

UI updates also provide tremendous benefits to the company. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Increased product engagement

An appealing UI design is welcoming and encourages users to stay longer exploring your product or services. It also removes friction thus increasing engagement.

Improved the overall user experience

Good design creates a meaningful and relevant experience for users. It makes your product easy to use and addresses the user’s pain points faster, which drives product adoption.

Attract new customers

Good UI design turns your visitors into potential customers. Plus, it gives your product an edge to stand out from the competition.

How should you announce UI updates?

It’s not enough to release new UI updates on your website, you need to announce them. Choosing the right platform will help you catch your user’s attention without overwhelming them.

Here are some to take note of:

Communicate product updates with in-app notifications

In-app notifications are contextual and timely. Compared to other announcement methods, they’re more engaging as users can start using the updated product right away.

You can use a number of UI patterns to announce product changes in-app: modals, slideouts, banners, and tooltips.

For example, Postfity uses a slideout to announce new features in-app. The slideout explains the what and why of the new feature. More importantly, it explains what’s next, and offers a quick video tutorial if the user still needs more guidance.

postify-example-UI-updates

Combine in-app notifications with email marketing

Using multiple channels to communicate product changes is beneficial, and email is a great supplement to other channels. With emails, you can keep your users — both active and inactive — engaged and up-to-date with details on new product releases and product updates.

One of the drawbacks is that it’s a crowded channel, where you have to compete hard for attention. Although the good thing is modern email marketing software enables you to personalize emails a great deal to maximize your chances of catching users’ attention.

Blissfully, a SaaS management platform uses personalized email messaging to announce product updates. Every email they send tells a story and connects back to the customer’s pain points.

Right before the email ends, they list the product’s benefits and end with a strong CTA to prompt a response from users.

personalized-email-messaging-to-announce-product-updates

Share the news on social media platforms

Social media is great for reaching out to a larger audience, announcing news of upcoming changes, and getting users excited about the updates.

The important part here is identifying the social media platform where your target audience hangs. If you did your customer research properly then you already know the answer!

Slack-social-media-announcement-UI-updates
Slack Ui updates announcement.

Announce user interface design changes on company website

You can either have a: “what’s new” section on your website with all the recent and upcoming upgrades, or you can use a static website notification banner to deliver your message.

Here’s an example from Storychief.

storychief-notification-banner-UI-updates
Storychief notification banner UI update.

Whichever you choose, include a ‘learn more’ button where interested users can go into details.

Take Slack, for example. To support their social media announcements, they include a detailed blog post that explains how to take advantage of their new updates.

Slack-feature-announcement-UI-updates
Source: Slack.

Add product update plans to a customer-facing roadmap

Make your product roadmap public and use it to communicate your company’s mission and vision with customers. Outline the progress of your product over time, including in-progress updates to entice new users and future updates to excite old customers.

Add the features, integrations, and UI change ideas you’re developing to keep users in the loop. And most importantly, allows users to share their thoughts on upcoming updates and use their insight when implementing.

Roadmap, for example, used cards to list out changes, separated into three columns. At the top right corner is a CTA to collect users’ feedback and a reaction button to vote for their preferred ideas.

Roadmap-example-public-roadmap-UI-updates
Communicate UI updates with public roadmaps.

How to choose the right UI pattern for your in-app product update announcements

Choosing the right UI pattern for in-app announcements can be tricky. For starters, you must strike a balance between the type of UI pattern and the frequency of display.

Displaying too much of the wrong UI pattern type, at the wrong time can harm the overall user experience. Likewise, showing too little of your in-app announcement would mean less engagement, which could reduce the product adoption rate.

That said, here’s how to choose the right UI pattern for your announcement:

Determine the significance of your product changes

Before announcing a product update, understand how it’ll affect the user, the product, and the company. Ask the following questions:

  • How will the product update affect users? Will the update affect one user segment or all?
  • Is this a complete overhaul or a minor change? How will this affect the user’s experience?
  • How will the change affect your business growth? Would it be effective immediately or in a more long-term range?

Use attention-grabbing modals or slideouts for announcing major updates

If you’re announcing a major release or product redesign that will benefit all users, use an attention-grabbing modal to ensure no one misses it.

Modals are great for redirecting a user’s attention and managing a user’s experience but can be very intrusive when they appear unexpectedly while browsing through a site. Use them only when needed.

To announce our major update in Userpilot, we used a big modal window that pops up right after login. This way, we ensure no user misses out on newly released features.

The modal window gives a quick overview of the new major feature. From here, users can choose to exit the window or click on the pink button to learn more at their own pace.

Userpilot-modal-announcement-example-UI-updates
Source: Userpilot.

Announce medium-sized changes with tooltips

Major product changes may only occur a few times a year, but medium-sized ones could occur monthly. Although medium-sized updates can be still significant, they generally don’t require the same level of attention as major ones.

In these situations, subtle UI patterns can strike the right balance between considerate and assertive. While some users will appreciate the tip, others can dismiss it easily.

Sometimes, all you need is a single well-placed, prominent tooltip to communicate a product update.

Loom-tooltip-example-UI-updates
Source: Loom.

Use subtle UI patterns such as hotspots for minor product updates

Tooltips and modal windows both provide information outwards: They appear automatically when a user interacts with the product.

By contrast, hotspots are subtle UI patterns that invite users inward to learn more.

These small icons, usually in the form of pulsing circles, can be placed on different elements and reveal more information when users hover or click on them.

Best practices for communicating UI updates to your user base

Here are a few best practices for communicating UI updates with your audience:

Have a look at product usage insights and feedback to understand what’s working

Before implementing an update, run an audit to understand what’s working and what’s not. Determining what’s working is equally important to make sure those features are safeguarded against unnecessary changes during the update

Define goals and KPIs

What’s the end goal of your UI redesign? And how do you define if it’s successful or not? Before updating your user interface, clearly define yardsticks for a successful update, and what conversion metrics to track.

You can track KPIs like increased engagement, feature adoption, and increased active user rate. Whichever option you choose, make sure it aligns with your business objective.

Test the beta version of your product with a small cohort of users first

When launching a new feature, first test it on a small user segment before releasing it to your entire user list. This is called a soft launch.

Doing a soft launch helps you uncover usability issues and fix them before launching it to the rest of your customers and risking disappointing them.

Loyal customers and raving fans are good segments to run beta tests with. They love your brand and are likely to invest their time in helping you.

Alternatively, you can put out a call for testers so any interested user can sign up.

beta-test-form-UI-updates
Beta test form.

Segment users and personalize product release notes

There’s a high chance your product serves multiple user personas. Segment users with similar characteristics and deliver tailored messages to specific groups with ease, avoid the alert fatigue effect and make sure your updates have a better open and engagement rate.

With the advanced segmentation feature in Userpilot, you can segment users based on their demographics, in-app behavior, product usage, etc.

More personalized communication will increase the likelihood that the new product change will be embraced by the customer.

segmentation-UI-updates
Segment your user list with the Advanced segmentation feature in Userpilot.

A/B test in-app product update announcements

Run A/B testing on every user segment to discover which in-app announcement works best. A/B testing is a form of qualitative research, where you test multiple versions of your product announcement, and collect data on how users respond to each change.

Test everything: UI patterns, timing, and messages. Keep testing on a small scale and limit variations to two elements. For instance, you can increase the font size or add a new icon.

Iterate as you go, until you find what each user segment responds to best.

Userpilot-advanced-segmentation-UI-updates
Split test UI updates in Userpilot.

Measure the success of your UI update with user feedback and improve

After customers interact with the updated feature, trigger a short survey to learn about their experience. This helps you determine if all set goals have been achieved.

Keep user survey short; combine both qualitative and quantitative insight to discover friction points and understand users’ opinions. Gather this feedback and act on it to further improve the product.

User-feedback-survey-UI-updates
User feedback survey example.

Conclusion

As a SaaS company, you need to constantly enhance your product, add new features and optimize customer experience to keep up with the competitive market.

It’s also equally important to be strategic when announcing those improvements to maximize the value users get from them.

As already discussed in the article, in-app messages are one of the best ways of announcing updates. They can be personalized for different segments and besides, they are more engaging as users can access the new features right away. Want to make in-app product announcements code-free? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can get started today!

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Userpilot Team

Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com