28 September 2013 | 16 Comments
I sent this message to Kickstarter this afternoon. I’m curious what they’ll say or do, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on my request to them. If you are as concerned about this as I am, I suggest you write a note to Kickstarter about it using their contact form.
Hi, I’m a Kickstarter creator and frequent backer. I recently noticed that reward levels on new projects have the word “or more” after the pledge amount. I’m sure a lot of forethought went into that decision, but I just wanted to add my perspective as a past and future creator about why that’s not a great idea for us creators.
The first reason has to do with car commercials. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of car commercials that end with something like, “Starting at $299/month.” When I hear that, I think, “Sure, it STARTS at $299, but what’s the price for the version of the car that most people want–the version with AC, automatic windows, and not a cassette deck?” When backers see the words “or more” next to a dollar amount on Kickstarter, they’re going to think the same thing: “Okay, it’s $40 for the leather wallet, but what do I have to pay to get the usable version?” Despite the information being right below that dollar amount, the dollar amount and “or more” is so prominent that people are going to have that reflex of, “Okay, that’s the dirt-cheap version–I’m going to need to pony up more money to get the real deal.”
The second reason has to do with frequent Kickstarter users. This is a market-driven issue that hopefully will get better, but the “or more” doesn’t help it. The issue is that backers are frequently asked by project creators to give more. “If everyone gives $5 right now we’ll hit our funding goal.” “If everyone asks just 3 more friends to back the project, we’ll hit our next stretch goal.” And so on. This is all fine in small doses, but it happens a lot, and I think backers tire of it. However, now it looks like creators are asking backers to give more at every pledge level, all the time! And because it’s a new thing, many backers might think that the creator selected that option (they don’t know that it’s standard reward-level text now). So they’re going to look at a project’s reward levels and think, “I haven’t even backed the project yet, and this guy is already asking me for more?” They might not pledge at all as a result.
The last reason has to do with clarity–this applies to people who are new to Kickstarter. Say there’s a project with a $5 bumper sticker and a $25 t-shirt. The lower level says “$5 or more.” I pledge $25 to get the t-shirt. $25 is more than $5, so now I think I’m getting a t-shirt AND a bumper sticker. Says so right there at the top of the pledge level. To you and me this is obviously incorrect, but it’s potentially confusing for new Kickstarter backers. I write a series of Kickstarter Lessons, and the one thing I say time and time again–especially on the pledge levels–is that clarity is SO important. If you confuse someone with your pledge levels, they may not pledge at all. So having a built-in element of confusion is really, really bad for creators and backers.
I have the benefit of time–my next Kickstarter project isn’t scheduled until early 2014. I’ll use Kickstarter even if this problem isn’t solved–I love the platform, and I’m so grateful for everything Kickstarter has done for me. But I hope for the sake of me and other well-meaning creators that you consider removing “or more” and going back to the way it was before.
Thanks for your consideration,
Thanks for reaching out and for taking the time to send along your feedback. At Kickstarter we are constantly working to improve the experience for both our backers and creators. The “or more” to us allows backers to not feel as though they can only pledge that amount to a project – but they can pledge whatever they want to pledge to support a project. Oftentimes backers aren’t aware of the fact that they can choose a lower reward tier but pledge more to the project, and we hope this conveys that to them. But community feedback like this is what keeps us motivated, and I’ll be sure to pass your input along to the rest of the team. We’ll definitely discuss the points you’ve brought up here.
It’s a nice response and supports Kickstarter’s efforts to emphasize it’s not a store, but it’s also all about the money. For me (and for many creators), Kickstarter is more about building community than money. Something like this that confuses backers and focuses on “more money” isn’t good for creators or backers.