Whenever we update our software or build a new feature, we share details via app release notes that can be found within the “What’s New” section of the iOS and Google Play stores. And while some companies choose to outline only the facts, others view release notes as a creative endeavor, because nothing says ‘challenge’ quite like trying to make bug fixes interesting. Take a look at Careem’s latest release notes:
Recently, I sat down with our copywriter, Greta van der Merwe, and our design lead, Mohamed Imran, to get the scoop behind writing funny release notes. They explained where they get their inspiration in addition to advice they have for up-and-coming app release writers.
Tell me a little bit about your role within Careem.
Greta: I am the English Copywriter at Careem. I’m currently based in the Marketing Department, but I write just about everything from internal emails to campaign ads to billboards to app pop-ups. We’re a small, crazy creative team that churns out all the awesome Careem stuff you’ll see out there.
Imran: I lead the product design team at Careem. What that means is, I have the privilege to work with some super talented rockstars, and together, we help build simple, yet delightful experiences for all our products.
Where did the idea of having entertaining release notes come from?
Imran: It all started with DJ Khaled, the major key to success. In all honesty, I didn’t know who he was or how profound his words were. I just found it amusing that someone talking about coco butter over short Snapchat videos could influence so many people. Back in those days, all our app updates were just plain vanilla “bug fixes and improvements.” And although we had a lot of bug fixes and improvements, it just didn’t feel right to put a release note with 23 characters for all the hard work we put in every release. So I began writing all the features out in a way that not only I found fun, but that channeled my inner DJ Khaled in hopes that others would find it fun as well.
And Greta, how did you come to take over for Imran?
Greta: I remember reading a particular release note even before joining Careem. It was an homage to the Pokemon GO craze that was taking over the planet, and I thought “Wow, this is smart.” Something so small can say so much about a brand, you know? Lo and behold, a couple of weeks after reading that, I got contacted by Careem’s talent acquisition team, and I told them, “I’ve been drooling over your app release notes, of course I want to work there!” In a way, Imran’s writing lured me to my calling.
Where do you both get your inspiration from?
Greta: I think the content of a new update has always been kind of shunned as ‘nerdy’ or ‘technical’ info that not many people care about, which makes it prime real estate to have a little fun in. I try to find a topical angle that’ll appeal not only to the people who are interested in bug fixes, but just normal people, in the hopes of them checking in more regularly to see if we’ve left them an easter egg.
Imran: It’s usually the spur of the moment. Whenever I’ve written a release note, it’s usually been whatever is top of mind at that particular time. I wouldn’t call it inspiration, but my Twitter feed usually has a huge influence on my ideas.
What are some things you have to keep in mind when writing app release notes?
Greta: Careem always tries to put a smile on people’s faces, but at the end of the day, the people who open that section do so to find the technical information they’re after, not some fluffy content. So, I think it’s important to make sure you get the facts across first, then interweave a quirky narrative as a secondary nice-to-have where it makes sense. The aim should be firstly to inform them, and secondly to delight them.
Any advice for copywriters who want to join the Careem team?
Greta: Being the voice of a brand is challenging, but super rewarding. Even as a copywriter with agency experience, I still believe that part of your own personality goes into your writing. And it should. It’s makes the end result so much more worth it.
Imran: I’ll keep it simple – be yourself. Write from your heart. And as Dr. Dre once said: “When the ideas are coming, don’t stop until the ideas stop because that train doesn’t come along all the time.”
Be sure to stay tuned for future app release notes! And in the meantime, if you want to do what Greta and Imran do, check out our job openings at https://jobs.jobvite.com/careem/.