13 May 2015 | 31 Comments
Over the last few years, I’ve been really impressed by Kickstarter’s evolution as a crowdfunding platform. Their changes have been slow and deliberate, but almost every change brings a significant improvement to the previous version.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, I wrote a post about Kickstarter’s limitations. Several of the ideas I mentioned have since been incorporated into the site (by sheer coincidence–I’m not suggesting I had anything to do with the changes).
However, every now and then I wonder about what Kickstarter can be in the future. I’m not suggesting a complete redesign, as I think 90% of Kickstarter works great, and I’ll continue to create things there.
But today I wanted to talk about the 10%–the areas that could be redesigned–and I’d love to hear your thoughts. These ideas range from the small to the big:
- Built-in polls: One of the most beneficial elements of a crowdfunding campaign for both backers and creators are polls. Backers are engaged and creators are informed through polls. Currently I host polls on my website and backers click through to it, but how awesome would it be to incorporate them directly into project updates and even the project page?
- Integrated stretch goals: I think stretch goals should continue to be optional, but it could greatly benefit creators and backers to have them elegantly incorporated into the project page. Though perhaps this wouldn’t work well with the emerging achievement system.
- Economies-of-scale alternative to stretch goals: While stretch goals can be awesome for engaging backers and encouraging forward momentum, they can also be unpredictable and cumbersome. As an alternative, what if creators could set tipping points at which the price would go down for backers? Thus a creator could put everything in the game/product from day 1, and if they get 2,000 backers, the price goes down for everyone by X amount because of the decrease in production cost. Ideally this would be tied to the number of products being made rather than the number of backers (see next point).
- Integrated add-ons: Kickstarter isn’t a store, but it’s perfectly normal for a backer to want two copies of something instead of one. Currently this requires backers to manually update a reward level and for creators to sort through a mass of data post-project to figure out who added what. Why not integrate some add-on options into the platform? This would even allow creators to know how many rewards are currently being produced mid-project.
- One-click avatar updates: This is a little point, but it could simplify things. Most projects offer custom avatars to backers during the project, but it’s a hassle to change your profile picture. You have to save the image and upload it via your backer profile. Why not let backers do this with a single click?
- Enhanced dashboard: The Kickstarter dashboard offers some good data, but it’s still missing two key pieces of data: How many people have clicked the “Remind Me” button and how many people subscribe to updates. To be able to track that information from day to day just like the funding goal and number of backers would be amazing.
- Cancellation responses: When a backer cancels, Kickstarter asks them why they cancelled. However, creators never see that response (and backers don’t know that). While I think the vast majority of the data is irrelevant (backers change their minds all the time), every now and then I bet they give some really good feedback. At the very least I wish Kickstarter could tell cancelling backers that creators won’t see the feedback.
- Rewards with a tipping point: On my Euphoria project, backers asked for an alternate-art deck of cards and an extra set of dice to be added to the game. It was too expensive for a stretch goal, so after polling backers to gauge interest, I added a new reward level with some trepidation, as I needed at least 1,000 backers to choose the reward level to meet the minimum print-run requirements. I’d love to have the option to create premium reward levels with tipping points–if not enough backers pledge to that level, the new component won’t be made and their pledge would default to the next level down.
- Track and reward influential advocates: Some backers are more influential than others. They share the project more, they have a wider audience, and more people trust them. I wish there were a way to know who those backers are, even if it’s just to send them a personal message to thank them for the impact they had on the project.
- Rate creators: As Kickstarter grows, we’re going to see more and more repeat creators. A backer can look at a creator’s history to see what they’ve done in the past, but it’s really hard to see (without extensive research) how well those creators followed through on their goals and promises. So why not implement a basic 5-star rating system for backers to rate the creator based on campaign experience, communication, and product execution? It could use a Yelp-like system of removing the top 5% of ratings and the bottom 5% of ratings so the outliers don’t have too much of an impact. That way new backers could quickly and easily learn about the creator before pledging their support. Heck, this system could even be used to rate backers, as they’re even more important to the Kickstarter ecosystem than the creators. If someone is spreading negativity across multiple projects, they could come to Kickstarter’s attention for further investigation through some low ratings.
What do you think about these ideas? I’ve created a poll below where you can pick the things on this list that you’d most like to see Kickstarter implement.