How to: announce new features

How can you make sure your users know about the updates you make? Use walkthroughs for announcing new features. You can launch the walkthrough directly from support apps such as Intercom. You can also place a launcher in your application near the new feature. However, why not greet them when they log in with a personalized announcement in a popover?

In this article, we’ll show you step by step how to create a feature announcement with a walkthrough topic type.

Scenario for this tutorial:

Users log into your application. They see a popover about a new feature. They have the option to start a feature guide or dismiss the message. They can then start a feature guide from the widget another time.

Before you create a feature announcement popover

Before you start creating a feature announcement, you need to build the step-by-step guide regarding your new feature. You need to build this first so that you can link it to the button in the announcement popover.

For building a step-by-step guide take a look at our articles here, and here.

Keep your new feature guide punchy and quick. People are overcome with distractions. Keep your guide as brief as possible. Researchers have discovered there is a median duration of focus of 40 seconds before knowledge workers switch tasks.

We will work with the authoring tool to add and edit the content of our walkthrough. If you haven’t installed it already, please click here to add the authoring tool as a Chrome extension.

Each walkthrough consists of steps. You can build a one-step walkthrough, or create an interactive, step-by-step guide. In our case, we will create a one-step walkthrough. The process consists of 2 parts: building a topic (walkthrough) and adding steps to it.

In this article, we won’t describe in details how to create a walkthrough. We explained it here.

To create a walkthrough:

  1. Go to your application and enable the Inline Manual Authoring tool in your browser.
  2. Choose or create a site you want to build a welcome message for.
  3. Select Walkthrough as a topic type.
  4. Set the visibility in the widget to Visible.
  5. Confirm by clicking the Create topic button.

For a feature announcement, we just need to add one step to our walkthrough. We won’t cover all of the functionalities of the Step Options Panel. To find out more about how you can configure your steps, take a look at this article.

Wondering what to write? We wrote a post about using prompts to spark a user’s curiosity. This helps users decide if the information is relevant to them so they can quickly dismiss the announcement if it doesn’t suit their needs at the moment. You can also use tokens to give them a personal, first name greeting.

Tip: With Tokens, you can add a personal touch to your content created within Inline Manual. For example, you can greet your users with their first name: “Hi {{first_name}}! ” See how to use tokens in your content in this article.

To add a step:

  1. To add a step, click + Create one.

  2. You will see the Step Options Panel in the authoring tool and the preview of the step - the small popover in the middle of the screen. Start with selecting a step template - decide how you want your popover to look like. Do this before you start creating your content.

  3. Use the editor to provide a step name, and your content: text, links, tables, images, videos or a slideshow.

  4. Continue with disabling control buttons such as next, previous or end buttons. Click Progress to hide the indication of 1/1.

  5. Now, let’s add a custom button. Click the custom button link in the WYSIWYG editor.

  6. Next, configure the button. Add text such as "Awesome, show me more" and select the action: Link to a topic. Then choose the topic you want to launch when a user clicks the button.

  7. Add a second custom button with text such as "OK! Got it" so the user can confirm he saw the message and close the window. To do that, create a new custom button but select Deactivate Topic instead of Link to a topic.

Tip: By default, all buttons will have the same color. However, you can change the color of a second button with a CSS code. The best way to do that is to switch to the source view in the WYSIWYG editor and add the ID to that button. Then add a CSS code to the Site settings in the portal.

  1. If you want to, you can darken the area behind the popover with the backdrop feature. The cover locks down the click-through tour, so your users won’t get lost or distracted. You can adjust the color, opacity, and padding.

  2. Click Save to confirm changes.

Well done! You’ve just created a feature announcement message!

Now you can target who sees this message.

You can offer this announcement to all of your users, however, you can also limit it to a specific set of users. For example, if you have a special onboarding experience for new users, and you want to limit this message to returning subscribers, do that with segments.

When you have your segments created, you can set up autolaunchers. With autolaunchers, you can automatically launch topics on your website. This is a super effective solution to launch announcements and updates to users upon logging in. Creating an autolauncher requires several features to be enabled or implemented. Learn more about autolaunchers here and here.

With our analytics, you can also see who has engaged with your messages. If you find that over time, there are users who haven’t seen your message, you could retarget them with another prompt or reminder.

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