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Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2007 at 9:33 am

Confessions of a Screenshot Addict

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 18th, 2007

snagit banner my yahooIf you’ve ever seen any of my screencasts, or seen one of my presentation, you may have noticed I collect screenshots of just about anything I consider relevant.

Where does this obsession come from?

The other day, one of our newer staff members asked me why I’m such a screenshot addict. What’s the benefit to collecting all these images, many of which I may never use?

It was only when I opened my Yahoo! page yesterday that it hit me. The banner was right there, where it’s been for awhile. Even though I never clicked, there is a value in those impressions. What triggered my memory was that little stick drawing guy in the SnagIt banner.

I can remember, as early as 1996, taking screenshots for marketing purposes. Back then, I was working with a telecom company that was selling voice-over-Internet products, and I was helping to manage the banners we bought on Yahoo!, Excite, Altavista, landing pages, and so on. The top-performing banner — no matter what we offered or how creative we were — was this little stick figure smiley-face guy with a simple offer. (By the way, I’m still shocked today at how good this company was at measuring stuff back then. It probably helped fuel my passion for web analytics. I could tell you by the keyword on any of the engines, for any date range, for a particular version of a banner we ran, how many minutes people used our product to call Argentina.)

But I digress. What did I do with the screenshots?

I used to take screenshots of every page where I could find our banners. Then I would save them to compare with the following week’s/month’s metrics. I’d analyze them to see if any other elements on the page were enhancing or detracting from the ability of the banner to get the click-though. Sometimes it was a search result that influenced the conversion. I’ve been collecting screenshots ever since.

For as long as I can recall, I’ve been a fan of TechSmith’s SnagIt (and later, Camtasia for video) for Windows. Now that we’ve switched the company to Mac, we’re using SnapZ Pro X, as well as TechSmith’s newly released Jing Project. (Thanks, guys. Please keep those Mac products coming!)

What can you do with screenshots?

1. Chronicle all of your online advertising efforts and use the screenshots to analyze any interactions with your success metrics.
2. Keep a running history of changes to your content, or a competitor’s (i.e., see what changes/tests have been performed).
3. Use them in presentations when reporting on web analytics for a particular ad creative or page.
4. Use them to figure out what to test next in your landing page optimization efforts
5. Impress your friends with your collection that contains an original Amazon screenshot.

Are you a fellow screenshot addict? Want to be? If so, come join my FaceBook group.

Add Your Comments

Comments (16)

  1. I joined the facebook group. Currently using SnagIt, but Jing looks pretty interesting as well. Trying to automate the process as much as posssible for my current tests we do and research case studies and such. Yes, I admit my addiction to screenshots.

    And just as addicted to your screencasts.

  2. Hi Bryan,
    I’m also a happy screenshooter, but I often find it tiresome to screendump, upload and use the dumped images in my blogging efforts. I’ve therefore come up with a ‘screendumpr’ – a combination of gadwin’s print screen, Flickr’s Uploadr and a WordPress flickr plugin. I’ve made a blog post of it here: Web 2.0 chains – the screendumpr.
    It works quite well, and I guess what I am trying to say is that an uploading tool in screenshooting tools would be a great thing.

  3. I hope this doesn’t sound too spam-y, but as an admitted screenshot addict I found it really hard to manage all my captured design patterns. I didn’t want to store them in Flickr with my “real” photos, and the screenshots folder on my computer was just getting unmanageable. I am currently building a web app for UI screenshots – kind of a mix of flickr, del.icio.us and social network. It is still very very early in the build process, but I’d love to know what fellow screenshot addicts think: http://www.patternparty.com

  4. Mark that is very cool. I signed up and am looking forward to trying it out.

  5. Hey Bryan,

    I am a screenshot addict too! I take screenshots of my Adwords stats right before making changes and I paste them in a Word file which contains my “Adwords history”.

    I use a free program called Wisdom-soft ScreenHunter. I like it because you can decide to hold the screenshot in your clipboard only or save it automatically on your hard-drive too. You can take the screenshot of the entire screen, a window, or a user-specified area.

    I am a big Camtasia fan too!

  6. [...] Eisenberg is a “screenshot addict”, in his blog post he comes clean by explaining why and what you can do with it [...]

  7. Wow, Bryan, now I know there’s a self-help group for everything!

    Like Vittorio, I take Snag-Its of my AdWords results and pop them into OneNote, with a separate page for each website. This makes it easy for me to add comments about what changed and how I’m interpreting the results.

    But I have a zillion other uses for Snag-It … and my favorite is taking screen shots during webinars (again, dropping them into a OneNote page). I’m actually about to do a video post on that, using Camtasia, of course!

  8. “Hi, my name is Dan. I am a screen shot addict.”…

    I had to laugh when I saw in my Facebook News Feed that several of my friends had joined a new Facebook group “I am a screen shot addict” (You must be a Facebook member to see the group). I…

  9. Bryan, in the tools category, I like Simple Snag (www.simplesnag.com). It allows you to batch snag pages. If you’re really an addict, you can download their archive of all 1000 home pages of the Fortune 1000.

  10. I keep a swipefile of everything in screenshots. And if you had an upload image on this blog, you’d have seen a screenshot of my screenshots.

  11. OH MY – I am a screenshot addict as well! I thought I was alone. Snagit is indispensible. Let me reiterate – indispensible. I RARELY send an email without a screen to back up what I am explaining.

    I use IBM Lotus Sametime at work (Instant messaging PLUS) and very frequently and easily can insert snagit-created screenshots right into the little Sametime window.

  12. When I’m trying to take a screenshot of a particular banner on a website, I have to refresh my page a million times until the banner comes into rotation. It’s especially hard to see the ad if the impression goal is low related to the overall impressions that the website gets. Does anyone know of a program that can take a screenshot of a particular banner ad without me having to sit at my computer and hit “Refresh” all day?

  13. [...] My name is Bryan and I am a screenshot addict. [...]

  14. [...] My name is Bryan and I am a screenshot addict. [...]

  15. [...] you still a screenshot addict? If so, have you considered switching to PDF, Evernote or other capture tools? Finally — on [...]

  16. [...] I look through my screenshot library (Yes, I’m a screenshot addict just like Bryan Eisenberg), I’m realizing I could write about examples all day, but you’d get tired of reading [...]

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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