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We are currently in the early phases of developing a web application for a client. We have regular sprint demo's during which we take the client through the new features and changes from the last sprint. We also want to increase our deployment rate, so that new updates and changes can be available to the client earlier for feedback - we may consider getting this list generated automatically. We also need this to be as lightweight as possible with minimal technical effort and impact.

I am looking at modifying our development web application to include a 'What's new' and a 'What's changed' section with the intention that these have a very strong 'call to action' feeling about them without being intrusive to the normal operations of the site. I want to communicate changes/new features really quickly to users in the event they missed my email.

I have narrowed my options to the following approaches:

  1. On login, a modal window is shown to the user providing them the option to view these two links. They can dismiss the modal and continue as normal.
  2. Include links with the top menu or sticky footer.

The linked pages will have similar styling as the rest of the web application and will present a list of changes etc in chronological order (newest first).

My user base at the moment is limited to the client who I rate as competent web users. In addition,I have yet to think of a way to make it clear these new pages are temporary and will not be part of the final product.

Given the requirements and objectives above

  1. Are there other techniques that can achieve similar results?
  2. Which technique will be more suitable?

I have looked at Adding a new feature to an existing website and I am not personally inclined to this approach - but will keep it in mind.

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3 Answers 3

A simple approach you can utilize is the top notification bar which is visible to users as they log in or come to the page as thats the first thing they would notice due to the color differential. Stackoverflow uses it quite frequently as shown below.

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You could also use the idea of movement or small animation to ensure that users attention is drawn to it to it. A good example is hello bar

The advantage of this is that the option is unobtrusive but noticeable and you can allow users to dismiss it if needed or keep it if they desire to keep it available. It doesnt also take up significant real estate and would scale to most devices while allowing users to do their work.

I am not a fan of the modal window option as that would be very obtrusive and users would have to interact with it before doing their work.

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A Tooltip with distinct color with label text "New" will help you to communicating changes and new feature in my web application. Once user click you can walk through them either by slideshow or video.

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You can use so called 'Sticky Side Panel'. This could be small label at the right side of browser window, scrollable and expandable to popup window or even into its own navigation menu. This element could be easily removed in production version of your site.

Take a look at Sticklr for better explanation what I'm talking about. I'm not affiliated with it - it's the first in google search results for 'Sticky Side Panel'.

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