The Benefits of Live Website Screenshots & Thumbnails

Looking over the different uses of website screenshot photos you can put together a laundry list of benefits. Web developers can pull screenshot thumbnails for use submitted links, tooltips on link hovers, or even directly within dynamic webpages. Google search results have also been fiddling with screenshot previews. It seems to be a hot topic of discussion.

A noteworthy concept is how many web services have been popping up to offer live website screenshots. You might read over a thumbnail provider comparison to get some ideas about features and pricing. Ultimately it takes an understanding of what you hope to achieve coupled with meticulous analytics testing.

drawing sketch website thumbnail image shot

The best solution to your benefit is a very fast API-based generator. You aren’t waiting around for a site to create what you need. Instead it gets delivered right to your frontend interface.

Some APIs require JavaScript or an alternative backend language. Similarly other webapps can generate screenshots using special URL structures including the website domain name. You can see a familiar URI structure on networks like Reddit.

Now this would assume you will cut back on server load times and bandwidth limits. I have seen plenty of self-hosted generators bring down servers because of an overload in traffic. If you don’t have money to pay for premium API access then it may be worthwhile to start off manually generating thumbnails.

But ideally you should end up with some results after the first few weeks. Keep testing and try shifting around the layout to see what works and what doesn’t. Users may be more prone to clicking links if you include a small thumbnail preview. But do you always need this attached to every anchor link?

Getting the latest results from a content generator also helps to keep your website up-to-date. You stay on top of the curve without any older screenshots dating back years in the past. Plenty of webmasters like to refresh their designs to give the content a new flavor. Using a live generator means you don’t need to handle archived images.

dzone new links screenshots example

There is a special purpose to start using online generators for your website. I can immediately think of social news projects like Dzone to render fresh link submissions. But truthfully this example is merely one of many examples. Look through comparisons on pricing and API request limits. Figure out what your website could need and how you would incorporate the screenshots for a better user interface. The rest of the process requires testing and formulating new ideas over time.