Building a Project Page Together with Your Core Audience (guest post)

11 February 2016 | 9 Comments

A few months ago, I got an e-newsletter from Gatekeeper Games, a company run by repeat creator and Kickstarter enthusiast John Wrot. John is known for his innovative methods on Kickstarter, one of which I featured in my crowdfunding book.

The e-newsletter informed me that John was once again trying something new. I’ll let him tell you about it in detail, but in short, he was going to try to build the entire project page for his new campaign together with fans and potential supporters.

I usually spend months building my project pages, including multiple layers of feedback and revision. I had my doubts that John’s idea of democratizing every element of the page from scratch would result in a coherent design, and I wondered if people would spend their time doing something that a project creator is expected to do.

So I asked John to share the results of his experiment, and I recently received those results. John is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his A.D.A.P.T. game, so I appreciate him taking the time to write this guest post. Enjoy!


The question is: do you advertise your preview page, or do you simply share it?

Hi friends, my name is John Wrot!  As the heart behind Gate Keeper Games I set out to make everything I create an inclusive experience, and I try to turn that experience into something other people can learn from.  I like to use polls and surveys to get backers involved and allow them to direct certain aspects of the project, from graphic design choices, to stretch goals, and now, campaign page design!

In the preparation of our first A.D.A.P.T. campaign (October, last year) I decided to invite the world to help us outright design our campaign page.   To that end, I chose to…

  1. Build our campaign page publicly, from scratch
  2. Advertise the preview page heavily so people can get involved
  3. Use it as a teaching tool (as all things learned should be)
  4. Do it all in under 7 days – start to launch (experience the entire event, unedited, here)

Overall, this was a huge success!  We accomplished every goal on the list!  This post, of course, furthering #3.  Again, thank you Jamey.

But what of the question?  What can be learnt from it?  Especially since the eventual campaign …had to be cancelled! : O

Here’s the stats:

These are the stats generated by our Kicktraq advertising during the preview page build, day 1 – 7, plus Launch Day.  These numbers display the vast number of people we reached in only 7 days.  (We had more from BGG as well, but this is the bulk of it.)

(Approximately 2500 total clicks pre-launch.)
(Approximately 2500 total clicks pre-launch.)

Now that’s awesome …at first.

What happened next, …or didn’t happen for that matter… I honestly never saw coming.

See, we used polls to make involvement simple: Leave a comment, or answer the polls.

Here are our PollDaddy vote counts during that week of the Preview stage.

2 john

-What we set out to do, in innovating to provide a learning opportunity worked.
-What we set out to do, in getting people involved and excited about the campaign in a “This is your game” spirit… did not.

The thing I never expected is that of 2500 viewers 2465 of them weren’t interested in a preview page. We had only 35 unique participants all week!  (A special thank you to those wonderful 35!)

“So people knew about it in advance, but didn’t really care until it launched …right?”

Well, we live in a time where you often only get 1 shot at earning a pledge on Kickstarter, and our one shot came before the campaign. Here’s our video view stats for the project’s lifetime.

3 john

Net Stats:

  • Pre campaign we had approximately 2500 views in just 1 week from advertising alone.
    • Pre campaign we had only 35 participants.
  • During the campaign we had less than (approximately) 2000 views in 2 weeks (as not everyone watches the project video), including adverts, organic Kickstarter traffic, and project shares/referrals.
    • During the campaign we had 163 participants (backers).


Some of these are glaringly obvious but need to be stated for the record.

  1. Far less people are interested in a Preview Page than I thought. :P
  2. Even less people are interested in participating in one.  That’s ok, but it’s good to know.
  3. I therefore started our advertising campaign way too soon (there was nothing to see, nothing to buy).
  4. Thus, having something to buy on landing will convert into pledges far more than a preview page will.
  5. You live, you learn, …you teach. :)

But I’m not alone here.

I’m not the first person to advertise our Preview Page.  So I called Ray Wehrs (Calliope Games) and chatted with him about his experience advertising The Titans of Gaming Preview Page.

He was very enthusiastic to help, as always.  Here is a quick summary of his experience and advice:

“The preview page is a qualifying agent.  It allowed us to measure our risk before we pressed the button.” -Ray Wehrs

“We incentivized our surveys.  If you participate, you’re entered to win a free game, etc.” -Ray Wehrs

“The surveys asked ‘At what Tier will you likely pledge?’; and those percentages generated from the preview page held true during the campaign.” -Ray Wehrs

“You need to know what you are measuring.” -Ray Wehrs

And by that last point we were mutually acknowledging the differences between Gate Keeper Games’ Gateway size and my intent of project page sharing, vs. Calliope’s Titanic size and their intent of project page sharing.  The sizes and notoriety of each of our companies are very different, as were our goals for the preview page, and therefore they generate very different results …and several very exciting lessons!

To see all the stats generated (there’s a lot!), and get a lot of tips about advertising go here.

All that said, since sharing your Preview Page remains a good idea (it’s just a matter of how much and with whom), the question becomes: Who will you share your preview page with, and for what purpose?

Leave a Comment

9 Comments on “Building a Project Page Together with Your Core Audience (guest post)

  1. @Sheldon – Those are strong words, thank you. I’ve spent the entirely of my life trying awesome (stupid) things that nobody (that I knew) has before, and succeeding (learning from them). : P

  2. (WordPress isn’t allow me to attach each reply to each comment, my apologies).
    @Sean – Thanks for sharing your perspective there. For experiments like this, having someone tell why they were watching but not involved is helpful for understanding the outcomes.
    As a tip for your reviewers – You can totally ask them to post on launch day, most will be happy to do so.

  3. @wibaigames – Thank for sharing your thoughts here. Asking specific questions definitely generates more responses. While anonymous polls people seem to have the most fun with.

  4. Going to chime in here, I was one of those that previewed the page and said nothing. It came down to looking over the page and seeing nothing out of place and not really being able to give a concrete response on what I would change,

    At its basics I was interested, and am now backing the project, but at the time I liked the idea, but knew I was coming up on crunch for the Christmas season, and didn’t want to pull the trigger at the time.

    I like the point at the end with Calliope games, and getting an idea of interest on pledge levels, and wibaigames note about A B testing, might have worked as a survey vs project page preview. Thus leaving the finished project page as something to be new to review when the game actually launches.

    Another idea might be to get some of these A B feedback during the campaign, maybe rearranging the order of the page, Making things more prominent and running surveys during the campaign might be the way to go.

    As someone currently in the process of figuring out their campaign pages this gives me a lot to think on, I wonder how this effects new kickstarters launching with reviews being available prior to kickstarter, if you might be able to negotiate with a big reviewer to release the review the same day as launch, in order to get the buy now effect, vs later.

    I like where both Jamey and John are going, they keep trying to play with the formula, it doesn’t always work out, but without tests like these, we will never know!

    Also side note, My comment was so long, it cut off the post comment in Chrome, and I had to move to Firefox.

  5. I think that was a really interesting approach. Kickstarter, after all, is an invitation for people to help you achieve a passion project, and to allow people to help create the final vision. It is interesting to see at what level people truly like to be involved. I always think that sharing things you are working on and asking questions is the best way to get people involved. So many posts on Facebook groups are “here is my Kickstarter”, with no questions. Those posts get almost no response and no involvement. But, ask a question like, “what do you like, card A or card B?”, and you get 75 responses and some good involvement. Thanks for sharing this unique idea!

© 2020 Stonemaier Games