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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?

  • 1
    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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few thoughts

  • general idea is: users go for things that they see they will benefit from
  • contrary, users don't go for something that isn't clear (why would I do that?)
  • by putting screenshots on the main 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 it's cool, they will 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, so make sure a screenshot 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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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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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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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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Adding onto the list Trident D'Gao made.

  • Screenshots of the application must also be maintained when that view changes which can be easily forgotten.

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