Screen Shots of Web Sites

Today's topic is an interesting trend in web site design that needs to stop. It's the screen shot of a web application. Typically the web site for a software application will offer screen shots of its user interface so you can get a feel for the software before downloading it. Most programs on sourceforge.net offer such screen shots, and for applications that you download I think this is a great idea.

But not for web-hosted software. There seems to be a trend of offering image file (JPEG, PNG) screen shots of all sorts of web software. I've seen a lot of Wordpress theme designers do this, and today I was looking at Squarespace which is an online publishing tool. Squarespace apparently offers a publishing platform to do rapid web site development. I don't know if it's any good, but that's beside the point.

The point is that instead of offering a live demo portal to show how their software works, they post screenshots. Screenshots of a web site. That you view in a web browser. Somewhere along the line, the train has come off the rails here. If you are developing software that is accessed through a web portal, offer a demo portal or at least non-functioning versions of various interfaces. Not screenshots.