Tech Writing - Alternate Term for "New Feature"

Stephen Kairys
Stephen Kairys used Ask the Experts™
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Hi,

When we add a new feature to our web application, I insert a "NEW FEATURE" banner into the appropriate page. e.g.

NEW FEATURE: The system now supports reciting pi out to 20 decimal places. Click here for details.

I'm now documenting a change to existing functionality and want to announce this update in a similar manner. But, it's not a new feature. What would be a viable alternate term? ENHANCEMENT? SOFTWARE CHANGE? <Something else?>

Thanks,
Steve
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Developer
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Commented:
I like "New Feature" or, more simply, just "New". And to be consistent, go with either "Enhanced Feature" or "Enhanced". Another idea is "Improved Feature" or "Improved". Here's an example of the latter from a major league software vendor (Nuance) for its latest version of PaperPort:

Comparison Matrix of PP14 Standard and PP14 Professional

Note the use of just "NEW" and "IMPROVED" (all caps and without the word FEATURE). Regards, Joe
AlanConsultant
Commented:
Hi,

Joe's answer is great.

Slightly different perspective, but not really:

I like New for new stuff

and Improved or Updated for changes that are not new features.

I also really like it when vendors also tell us about:

Removed Features (saves me hours of searching for where they moved it to)
Known Issues / Bugs (again, saves me hours)

Vendors that waste my time by hiding (or not explicitly disclosing) those are often subjected to competitive tender when the time comes, which pretty much guarantees a squeeze on their margins, whereas 'good vendors' are almost never put out to tender.


Alan.
Stephen KairysTechnical Writer - Consultant

Author

Commented:
Thank you both.

@Joe

1. Your example shows a table, but I assume NEW or IMPROVED apply to a banner at the top of a page?
2. So, if I had a parameter that previously had two possible settings and now supports four possible settings, would that one be IMPROVED? UPDATED?
AlanConsultant

Commented:
For (2) it would depend.

If you had previously:  High or Low

Now you have:  Very high, High, Low, Very Low

then I would say it is IMPROVED.


Conversely, if you had before:  Enabled or Disabled

and you now have:  Enabled (All Users), Enabled (Specified Users), Disabled (Specified Users), Disabled (All Users)

then it would likely be NEW feature.


I guess you just have to do it on a case by case basis and try to be fair and objective.  Keep the marketing and sales people away - else everything will just become NEW & IMPROVED

:-)

Alan.
Stephen KairysTechnical Writer - Consultant

Author

Commented:
For (2)
If my original choices (fake example) were:
Apple, Pear, Grape, Plum (which are all fruits)
and Development added Lettuce, Squash, Kale (veggies, of course), then I think NEW applies.

Along other lines, if a default value is changed to be more beneficial to the user, I suspect IMPROVED fits the bill.
Agree?
Thanks.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
> Your example shows a table, but I assume NEW or IMPROVED apply to a banner at the top of a page?

No. It applies to each feature in the table. For example, "Support shared network folders" is a NEW feature in PaperPort Professional 14 (and not in PaperPort 14); "Customizable Scanner Profiles" is an IMPROVED feature in both PaperPort 14 (five Profiles) and PaperPort Professional 14 (unlimited Profiles).

> if I had a parameter that previously had two possible settings and now supports four possible settings, would that one be IMPROVED? UPDATED?

Both words are fine, imo, and so is ENHANCED.

Regards, Joe
Stephen KairysTechnical Writer - Consultant

Author

Commented:
@Joe.
OK, we're dealing not dealing with a table of functions here, but a single document. With a NEW FEATURE banner up top. So, I need terminology that looks "good" on the banner. I can live with UPDATED as a heading.

UPDATED: The "Side Dish" field now supports veggies.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Commented:
> OK, we're not dealing with a table of functions here, but a single document.

I don't think that matters in terms of the adjectives used to described the features — New, Enhanced, Improved, Updated — all make perfect sense whether they're describing features in a table or a whole page or a whole section or a whole document.

> So, I need terminology that looks "good" on the banner.

I think that New, Enhanced, Improved, Updated will all look fine on a banner.

> I can live with UPDATED as a heading.

Works for me! But so do New, Enhanced, Improved. :)
Stephen KairysTechnical Writer - Consultant

Author

Commented:
Ended up going with ENHANCEMENT (the noun), to be consistent with NEW FEATURE, which I've been using dating back about a year.

Will review now and assign points. Thanks!
Stephen KairysTechnical Writer - Consultant

Author

Commented:
Thanks, everyone. I realize this question was somewhat subjective. However, your guidance helped me find clarity, and will ENHANCE the quality of my UPDATED and IMPROVED document. :)
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

Commented:
hehe...good one!
AlanConsultant

Commented:
{Groan}

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