If you or your company is launching a desktop/mobile software product without Screenshots available on your website or launching a web based service (Blogging tools, CRM, Forums, etc) without a LIVE Demo of it on your website that allows me to view it in end-user mode … forget about it. (i’ll even take a flash presentation sometimes, PDF’s never)
Any technology proficient user (Read, early adopter. Also, read as, users who will blog/hype your product and perform the viral marketing you need) will immediately surf away from your website/product page.
I don’t care how good your overall corporate website design is. I don’t care how much documentation is available. I don’t care who’s funding you. I don’t care if it’s Open Source or Shareware or Free or Subscription based.
Right then, right there, when the first impression matters … all I care about is how does the product look.
I’m enough of an early adopter to understand your service in a short 1-paragraph note. After that I want to look at the product. After years working on different operating systems and websites, it is important for me to stop wasting time on downloading and installing your software (or putting your web-app on my web server) just to get a demo. Gone are the days of those shareware CD-Roms (RIP, PCQ cds)
I’ll deal with the other issues, such as licensing/documentation/support once I’ve atleast approved the look and feel of your software/website.
That said, once your screenshots are good, keep up the good work by including good documentation, community forums, and overall making it a good and polished product.