Is it a good idea to release screenshots / marketing material well before product launch


We're about 2/3 months away from launching a small start-up webapp. We have lots of designs / screenshots of the app but so far we have kept what the app does a complete secret. Friends and family dont even know what it is.

We are fairly sure we know in what state we will launch the app but we don't know if the screenshots we have will change and or some of the functionality may be included / left out for launch.

Should we be trying to push our app at this stage or should we be waiting for a bit closer to launch. If we released them we'd be putting them on our app's blog (which needs finishing yet)

I would be concerned that competitors may see our work or people may think our idea is great and it would give them a lot more time to get a copy app made.

thoughts ?


asked Nov 29 '09 at 05:43
26 points
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6 Answers


Wow, I guess I am in the tiny minority on this. My big issue is that we know so little about your situation yet everyone's saying, "Hey, put it out there for the world to see!" Quite possibly that's the right strategy but I don't feel we have enough for any of us to make that recommendation. Questions I have:

  • Who is your target market / audience? How big is it?
  • How will you reach them? What's your plan to generate buzz now if you "go public" now?
  • What would your launch plan look like now? How would you reach your target market(s)?
  • What does the competitive landscape look like? How big are your competitors? How nimble? How much marketshare? How entrenched? How difficult to dislodge?
  • How long would it take them or others to duplicate the functionality? How likely they will?
  • How sure are you that you'll hit the 2 - 3 month date to finish v1? What is the likelihood of that slipping by a little or a lot?
  • Really try and measure the pros and cons - risks and rewards of now vs. when product is done. What's the worst that can happen now? What's the best benefit now? What do you lose if you wait? What if you wait one more month? Two more months? Pros and cons?

Other thoughts:
- Filing for a patent or threatening to sue probably don't make sense. See other threads about that. If you're a deep-pocketed company willing to defend on that front, great. If you're a startup, not likely.

  • If they find out in 2 - 3 months anyway it doesn't matter...but it does. That's 2 - 3 months additional headstart you have.
  • I agree re: good beta testing but that's different than publicly launching this.
  • Yes, general prevailing wisdom is to get out there much sooner than later. I've heard that if you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product then you're launching too late. Fine. But just make sure you have the answers best you can.

I'm not saying you might not want to start generating buzz and awareness now but make sure you have the answers to the questions above and more. Understand the risks and rewards of now vs. later, then make your decision. You only get one chance to launch, make sure you're making the right decisions.

Best of luck to you.

answered Nov 29 '09 at 07:12
4,214 points


As soon as you release your competitors will see it. So you're going to have to deal with that early in your company's life regardless. Stop worrying about them and start worrying about how to get attention.

Usually a launch is met with more silence than action. Anything you can do to offset that is good.

If your competitors can copy you in 3-6 months, it doesn't matter when they find out...

answered Nov 29 '09 at 06:27
16,231 points
  • Jason's right. It doesn't matter if they find out at release of a few months before. If the barrier to entry (to compete with you) is low, you'll be copied before you can get established in your space. If it's high, you'll stay ahead of competitors. – Keith De Long 14 years ago


First of all, good luck with your app.

Now, I am a strong believer that sharing is the way to go. And I don't say this out of some sentimental idea but rather out of experience.

It has been proven over and over again, that the more people have a look at your product (specially if it is software related), the more improved it will be and the more feedback you'll get. Never launch a software application without beta testing it first with as many people as possible.

If you are concerned about somebody stealing your idea, then you may try to get a patent or let everybody know that you will pursue legal actions against anybody who copies your code.

answered Nov 29 '09 at 06:31
A. Garcia
1,601 points


I agree with Jason and Aurelio -- you've got to be willing to take the chance to put your product (or it's concept) out there in order to start generating buzz. You have got to get that momentum moving and rolling because if you don't, you're going to launch to little or no fanfare and I doubt that's what you're looking for.

When you play along in the vast world of "Web Applications", you have to plan for, and take into consideration, the fact that someone may just try to duplicate your vision. It's happening today and I'm sure it will continue to happen tomorrow and the next day. Unfortunately, that's just how the world works (on-line and off-line).

If someone is going to duplicate your creation, they're going to duplicate your creation ... end of story. It doesn't matter if you provide sneak peeks of your project 2-3 months before its official launch or not -- if someone wants badly enough to duplicate what you've got, they're going to have at it. You just need to be prepared for that potential fork in the road.

Anyhow, them's my $0.02.

answered Nov 29 '09 at 06:52
Gltk Collective
21 points


Write a blog post for every feature with screenshots included. Write about the design process, the choices you've made, post paper prototypes if you have some.

Push every blog post to facebook, twitter, digg and what not. Get your voice out there. Tell us something. People are curious.

Have a single page on your apps website. Write a brief description about the app. And have a sign-up form above the fold, and tell that we're still developing. Leave your e-mail and we'll tell you when we launch.

Use your blog's RSS feed to link to every blog post on the website.

Remember to set up Google Analytics on both your blog and website.

Run a Google AdWords campaign for the keywords you want to target, and keep an eye on the traffic. You probably received a $50 Adwords credit code you can redeem. Just remember to set a daily budget that won't kill you :)

Good luck with your app!

answered Nov 29 '09 at 06:53
Martin Hn
234 points


if you are afraid that the screenshots may change after the release then you could release the current state as development screenshots. Just mention or have a tag line saying "screenshots may change when released". This way you share your development status and also get some traction.

I have been doing that for my product and slowly my google analytics shows increased number of visitors to my "yet to be launched" site.

I tag all my posting as "pre-release" so when the product is released and things change then I can simply bury all the 'pre-release' posts deep down in the archive or remove them completely.

Traction is the key and you don't want to launch when no one is listening. Talking about your development process is one way to get some traction but not the only way to rely upon.

After I have begun writing about my development status, I have begun getting hits like "mockuptiger review" and so on. It is really fun and exciting and keeps the motivation engine going.

answered Mar 24 '11 at 00:26
420 points
  • Old topic, but I like your idea of tagging blog posts as "prerelease" so that you can find them in the future to update "Hey this data is out of date, please see xxx to get the scoop on the most current implementation." – Sean 13 years ago

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