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I have a landing page for a webapp. I heard that showing screenshots of the software might hurt conversions.

I know that the answer is to test and find out for myself, but what do people think? Should a webapp landing page contain screenshots of the interface?

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Why would you want screen shots of the application itself on the home page of the application? I can see screen shots being useful if you are selling the application, but not in this case. –  ChrisF May 17 '12 at 20:41
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4 Answers

Screenshots are a poor way to display a desktop-resolution interface, because when small they are difficult to evaluate, and when large they confuse the user into clicking on them. It's a web app though... there's no need to have a screenshot. Just have a 'Demo' link and they can instantly evaluate a partially working version of it. I have also seen well done demonstration videos highlighting the portions of the application that are awesome (and can be hard to find on your own).

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few thoughts

  • general idea is: users click on/go for things that they immediately see they will benefit from
  • contrary, users don't go for something that isn't clear (why would I do that?)
  • by putting screenshots you are uncovering very essence of what's inside, and here is when you have to be 100% sure it doesn't suck, if a user sees that's cool, they will appreciate this and go further, and vice versa: if the main page demonstrates lame screenshots, well...
  • general problem with screenshots is that they are taken without thinking much of the purpose, you have to show off most attractive things and hide unrelated ones, so make sure screen shot doesn't have: surrounding window frame, too much empty real estate (make the window smaller), static elements that don't make difference.
  • make sure your screenshots are filled with goodies, distilled and compact, straight to the point, have outstanding features that only your app provides, don't look boring
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great advice, this is making me think harder about my screenshots and my choices, thanks –  Harry May 18 '12 at 4:59
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You're right to want to test for your particular situation.

Generally people want to understand what your product is about without having to make a commitment. What people need to understand and what they consider a commitment varies. Sometimes a screenshot is enough understand, other times people need a vide, sometimes a live demo is best. For some users setting up a free account is too much, for others even a video is too much of a commitment.

So generally I see no problem with including screenshots, but this doesn't mean they always help or are the most important thing to include.

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If your software is super-ugly then, yes it might hurt you. If your software is UI less, then obv no, you dont need a screenshot.

However if your software has a slick interface and is very appealing it might actually help.

There is a pit fall in software screenshots though, you should avoid.

A full window screenshot scaled down will be totally worthless.

You can do a partial screenshot, or whole screenshot utilizing a magnifiying glas on top of it like here:

http://www.hubspot.com/blog/bid/33574/Get-to-know-HubSpot-3-A-look-at-some-of-the-standout-features

If there is some feature in particular you can describe, and suppport with a partial screenshot then that should work.

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