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Optimized “what’s new” in-app update – part 2


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How to let your users know that you are now even more amazing than before
“What’s new” is an in-app capability. Therefore, it involves product design and development. Welcome technical requirements, marketing pre-requisites, product limitations, effort estimations, delivery times and so forth. Here is how to define the marketing requirements and consider product limitations and come back alive…

Before we proceed, 3 comments to set expectations :

  1. This free training session focuses on how you should define the “what’s new” feature and presents some examples.
  2.  There are, of course, additional channels available to update users of app improvements (such as app download page, Facebook page, email and more).Those will be discussed in other items. Here we focus on “what’s new” update from within the app.
  3.  This training includes practical guidance (you can find all the theory in part 1). After you’re finished reading, you will be able to optimize your app’s “what’s new” popup screen yourself (including L&F, copy, UX and requirements to product). Learn more about marketing role in product design.

To make it easier to go over the important product requirements you should insist on, I’ve composed the table below (I also present some visual examples, scroll down to view)



Product Options

Our Recommendations

Feature type

 3 options:

  • pop-up screen,
  • what’s new icon,
  • push notification
  • We recommend pop up-screen (with a “close” button) as it’s extremely visible and is a common interface in apps. Make sure updates are done once every couple of months, no more.
  • What’s new icon is usually less prominent (it’s relevant for other functions though (e.g. ”free stuff”).
  • Push notification should be used with care, as it’s perceived as an aggressive tool. It’s not commonly used for our purpose.


 3 options:

  • following login,
  • following logout,
  • Attached to a  specific action  (tool tip style)
  • Pop up following “exit” request is great for immediate background action (such as “upgrade”). If you need the user’s attention, though, it’s not ideal.
  • A pop-up following login best supports the benefits discussed above
  • Using a tool tip (explanation bubble attached to specific button) is nice for tutorial purposes but less prominent.


 Once, more than once

We recommend once, or else it might annoy users


  • Present to all,
  • Present to specific groups
We recommend not to present ”what’s new” to new users (first login ever). Everything is new to them. Also, consider popping it up only to loyal users, since other users might not appreciate it.  You might also want control over other parameters (only specific operating system, version, location, etc.)


 Relevant metrics

Yes, there is a development effort here, but the more you can learn – the better usage the “what’s   new” will get. So ask for reporting capabilities (number of clicks, how fast till they closed the       screen,    what did they do next…)

Rich media

  • text,
  • text + pictures,
  • text, pics and video
Here you need to consider:

  1. development effort (you might need to settle for less)
  2. device limitations (mainly of presenting videos)
  3. method – taking users from the app to an external browser (link them to YouTube for example) is not recommended. You may use in-app browser however.

Back office management

 Different levels of flexibility

By flexibility we mean ease of changes to the “what’s new” feature. In other words, the more flexible this feature is, the easier and quicker it is to make changes, edit the content, messages, visuals or parameters.

Call for action


Call for action is recommended when you can identify a relevant one. For example the “edit default settings” for the new feature.

Expiration date / on-off switch

 Include / don’t include

If you don’t have the option to define an end time, you might be stuck with it forever. It’s not a must if you define to pop it up once for every active (not new) user. But it may be problematic otherwise. Also, if anything goes wrong, you need a way to stop it from popping up…


 Include/don’t include

Hierarchy is the prioritization of this “what’s new” popup with relation to other popups that are active at the same time. You don’t want to pop-up too many screens all together and annoy your users. So, if you are presenting a variety of pop ups (interstitials, login screens etc.) we recommend that you give it some thought and define a hierarchy to the “ what’s new” pop up, considering different scenarios.


“What’s-new” popup product-requirements prioritization

Some of the requirements above are a must (type, trigger, on/off switch and repetition), so you can just choose from the available options. Others are to be prioritize based on the efforts and limitations (because sadly, developing it is nothing like writing it down). Here are MY priorities (top down). It’s nothing you should take as is. Each app marketer / developer should have his/her own priorities:

  1. Segmentation – without it you might not enjoy the full benefits of this tool. I am even considering moving it to the basic options. I don’t necessarily mean basic OS or version segmentation, but rather advanced segmentation (heavy users, specific locations, etc.). Segmentation is also a way to try “what’s new” on a small group of users before launching it to all…
  2. Audit –how else would you understand the value of this feature to your users?
  3. back office management – so you could use this feature whenever you believe it’s relevant (and maybe sometimes use it for other purposes as well, like for special announcements)
  4. Rich media – better visuals mean higher attention levels, and better self-explanatory user experience.
  5. Call for action – relevant if there’s an important related action (edit settings, try it now…), see examples below (where I feel it’s kind of missing)
  6. Hierarchy- mainly for conflicting pop ups, and for not annoying your users (e.g., multiple interstitials)

“What’s new” Copy (texts)

I’ve put together some basic guidelines to help you write well-composed “what’s new” messages:

  • Title– Use “what’s new” as a title. You can also write “new since your last visit”, “Welcome back! We’ve made some changes” (or something similar J). Just keep it simple. Users must understand the purpose of the pop-up in a glimpse.
  • Sub title / intro– use light, slangy, catchy intro sentence (e.g. “good news! We’ve made some changes”)
  • Feel free to end the update in a light, positive, refreshing and funny style: “swell, ha? You are welcome :)”, or “bet you are smiling now” or “Now we’ll go rest on the beach for a while”. It’s a chance to present your personal side, get your users engaged and smiling, even anticipating your next communication…
  • If you are communicating several changes, use bullets or a table. It’s easier to digest.
  • Keep the dry stuff as short as possible when describing changes in each feature. For Example:

    • Bug fixing (less crushes, woohoooo)
    • New! Alerts (configurable- don’t say you didn’t know…)  
    • New cool levels…
  • DO NOT make promises you can’t keep (e.g., don’t write “fixing all crushes)” if the app still might crash. Moderate by writing “minimizing crashes”, so you you don’t damage your credibility. 
  • Refresh their memory about communication channels- remind users of ways to contact you, right after the update description or the “call for action” button. For example: “still got questions? Send us Mail or leave us a message on our Facebook page”.


“What’s new” AGAPP
Apartment guide app  (
Design by
Love the looks, and the visual realization. Would appreciate a “try it out” button and an X on top instead of the “dismiss” (a better copy would have been “ok, got it”, if the closing button remains).


Walgreens shopping app
Click here to view their website
Nicely organized categories. Nice UX of the close-screen option. I am missing a call to action button and some easy going copy (if it’s too small to read, the current copy is a bit dry in my opinion).


USSA mobile app
Insurance, banking, investment and financial service products to members of the military and their families
Click here to view their website
The ribbon on the side is an interesting option. I think it’s nice. There’s room to expand here and achieve some of the objectives mentioned above (user interaction, call for action, etc.).


Google chrome
Click here to view source
Although it’s not from their app, it is still a great example. Check out the emphasis within each visual element (enlarged area). It’s just great.


Wrap up

Prominent product changes/improvements should be communicated through the app itself, to make sure users are up-to-date. My preferred way is a “what’s new” pop up following the app login, as long as it’s not done too often. Follow the guidelines written above to make sure you maximize the potential of this tool. Use this tool to communicate with your users and boost your app’s usage. Good luck. 

Back to part 1 to read about the benefits of “what’s new” feature within the app

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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