Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why do vendors no longer show screen shots?

I was watching a “shoot out”, apparently the nifty marketing name for a head to head demo at the 2010 HR Tech Conference and Expo.  At the end of each demo the audience voted on a series of feedback questions with an electronic signaling device and the results were shown onscreen for all to see.  As I recall about 4 of the 6 or 7 questions dealt with either functionality or how well the company had done against the scenarios provided them by the organizer.  Two questions dealt purely with the User Experience (UX).  When the scores were tabulated all but the UX scores were as far as I could tell statistically comparable.  What we can deduce from that, is that either; (a) the applications really were comparable, (b) the audience couldn’t judge the level of functionality, or (c) they didn’t really care.  The scores for User Experience however were wildly different.  To be frank one vendor simply got panned.  It seems pretty evident to me that in the 20 minute each format all the audience could assimilate was the visual appeal of the respective applications. 
So this observation leads me to the real point of this post.  Given that website visitors typically spend way less than 20 minutes making a first time evaluation of a vendor why do software vendors no longer show screenshots of their applications?  Is it that they covet this intellectual property, or are they embarrassed by their current UX, or they actually think that the paragraphs and paragraphs of prose they have written about functionality and differentiation that the SEO consultants told them needs to be in there actually gets read?

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