Liven up your firm’s sites by turning them into information platforms using screenshots.

Lawyer tech review screenshot software

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

Law firm websites and legal blogs, or blawgs, are not just for attorney marketing. They can also be used to communicate important information and answer frequently asked questions. It’s important to remember, though, that limiting your information to text may quickly bore a visitor or cause that person to leave the site altogether. Screenshots can help present the information you need to communicate in a visually appealing way and break up “walls” of text.

There are many different options for creating screen shots. This week, Lawyer Tech Review highlights two screen-grab tools you can use to capture Web pages: Awesome Screenshot and, for Windows 7 and Vista users, the Snipping Tool.

Awesome Screenshot Captures and Annotates Web Pages

Awesome Screenshot is a plug-in that can be used to capture all, or just a portion, of a Web page. The user can annotate the captured image with rectangles, circles, arrows, lines and text. Awesome Screenshot also allows the user to erase sensitive information. The plug-in — which is free, although the developer encourages users to make a small contribution — is in the beta-testing stage on Firefox 4. It is also available for use with Chrome and Safari browsers.

Here are a couple of examples of Awesome Screenshot captures. The first is a Consumer Product Safety Commission alert. We’ve taken a full screen shot, then annotated critical details with the use of a red line and red box. (Click to enlarge the sample screenshot.)

Sample of annotated screenshot

Our next example is a cropped Web page containing a map detailing the location of the federal courthouse in St. Louis. A parking lot clients might want to consider using is marked on the map.

Map screenshot with added notes

Windows Snipping Tool

If you have Microsoft Windows 7 or Vista, you can also take screenshots with Microsoft’s snipping tool. (Affiliate link.) As with Awesome Screenshot, you can take a picture of any Web page and then annotate it. Unlike Awesome Screenshot, though, the Snipping Tool can capture anything on your desktop, not just Web pages. This can be helpful if you want to isolate sections of legal forms and create answers to frequently asked questions below each section.

To find the Snipping Tool, simply go to the Start menu and type Snipping Tool into the search bar. Click Snipping Tool in the results, and it will appear.

Windows snipping tool options

Click the arrow next to the New button and choose a free-form, rectangular, window or full-screen snip.

Here’s an example of a rectangular snip taken from a sample office intake PDF form provided by the Oklahoma State Bar Association for use in personal injury accidents. We’ve added the highlight with the use of the snipping tool.

Annotated screenshot of a legal form

These are just two of the screenshot plug-ins and apps available right now, and this post is just a brief illustration of how lawyers can use screenshots on their websites and blogs. Many other tools, with many additional uses for lawyers, are available.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite screenshot application we didn’t mention, or a novel use for screenshots? Tell us about it.

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