Taking screenshots is easy enough to do one at a time, but when it comes to having a repository, it can be several hours of making sure you capture the right screen size several times over and then uploading the images individually, only to do it all over again when a website changes. Launched yesterday, Urlbox allows anyone with a gallery displaying website screenshots to automate the process and keep them dynamically updated.
Founder Ankur Gurha, who quit his job at Credit Suisse in investment banking to build the startup, spoke with BetaKit about how originally he saw the opportunity when vertical-specific search engines couldn’t mimic Google’s functionality to hover over a search result and see the page without actually visiting it. “In London we see a lot of vertical search engines coming up all the time, whenever we go to them the experience is pretty bad, it’s just a bunch of links and nothing rich there,” said Gurha. “We thought, how about we create a product these vertical search engines or websites can integrate very quickly and have screenshots for the links which they’re displaying on their websites…it helps you get really rich information about the links.”
Rather than uploading images, users input the URL of the website they wish to capture, specify the size they want the image to be, and the service will generate an embeddable image tag for them to use. Developers can also access an API and integrate the technology with their own backend. Each screenshot updates dynamically, so for example if a company redesigns its site, the user doesn’t have to replace that screenshot. Using Urlbox users can also see how their own site looks on different devices including both iPhone and iPad as a means to test their responsive design.
Urlbox currently has three tiers for pricing its screenshots-as-a-service platform, including a freelancer account for $9.99 per month, a startup account for $29.99 per month, and an enterprise account for $99.99 per month. The tiers are priced based on how many unique images are rendered, as in users can set a command so that each screenshot will update each time it’s uploaded, or choose a default setting where it’s cached for 30 days and renders a new one each month.
Though there are solutions like Paparazzi which help users take screenshots of websites that don’t fit in one screen, and Iamnosy, which alerts users when a website is updated, alternatives would most likely be manually taking screenshots and uploading them as images. According to Gurha, the main advantage for companies to adopt Urlbox are that it automates a process that’s usually looked at as tedious work.
“You want the whole process to be automated rather doing the grunt work every time, and we as engineers, we love everything to be automated,” Gurha added. “The other thing is if you really want to see how your website looks and do testing on different devices, you cannot possibly own 10 different devices or something…we give you one-stop shop, and you just integrate Urlbox..and you can very quickly see how your website looks on different devices.”
Currently, Gurha said he’s seeing signups and requests from major magazine publishers all the way to individual freelancers. Though it’s not a pain point everyone can identify with, Urlbox has the potential to save web developers and designers significant time, however, whether they’re willing to pay for its service rather than just do the work manually is something that it will discover over the next few months.