Kickstarter Lesson #171: The Project Timeline

11 January 2016 | 7 Comments

Every time I see a timeline image on a project page, I feel better about the project. A good timeline tells me the following:

  • The creators have carefully thought over the steps they need to take to successfully deliver the product to backers, which gives me confidence in them.
  • It sets clear expectations about when the product is likely to be delivered.
  • It makes me look forward to updates as each milestone is reached.

An example of a good timeline is on the Project Resurgence page. I particularly like this horizontal format because it doesn’t take up too much space on the page–you don’t have to scroll down just to see the entire timeline.

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Creators can even take the timeline to the next level by not only showing the future, but also the past. This increases my confidence in the project, because it shows the amount of work they’ve already put into the product, that it’s well developed and production ready (or close to it). Here’s an example from The Freedom Journal:

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Last, if you’re like me and are still confusing 2015 with 2016, you might appreciate a project timeline that uses visual cues to show you what has already been accomplished and what still needs to be done. Here’s an example from the Fleye project:

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Overall, I think the ideal timeline is the example immediately above this, but oriented horizontally like the first example so it doesn’t take up so much space on the project page (though I see that the vertical format is easier to design).

Do you derive value from project timelines? If you ever spot one that does something unique, feel free to share it in the comments below.

Also read: KS Lesson #161: The Power of Project Progress

7 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #171: The Project Timeline

  1. Love this! I especially love the idea of showing what work has already went into a project to give the potential backers the scope of where you’ve been with the project! Thanks as always!

  2. I’m glad you liked our timeline graphic for Resurgence Jamey, thanks so much! You’re exactly right, we chose that format to be vertically compact and not require scrolling. Great ideas from the other two timelines you showed too, I’ll definitely think about showing our past achievements and using more visual queues. Great lesson as always! :D

  3. This is a great idea that more projects could benefit from. I don’t mind only seeing it during the post-project updates though. Either way is very helpful. Game Salute has been doing it for years.

  4. This really is a must for all projects, not just kickstarter. The other day I saw a campaign which was still live which had one of the reward tiers delivering in Dec 2015… something like that can quickly make you lose confidence in a project. I think they could have really benefited from a timeline.

  5. Joe: I can see that, but I also know it’s an easy mistake to make when you’re creating your reward tiers. “Month” and “Year” are separate fields, so they probably updated the month and forgot to update the year, and as soon as someone backed that level, they couldn’t change it.

  6. While I’ve seen these on occasion from projects I’ve backed, I never really gave them much thought until you put it into perspective. You mention that it increases your confidence in the project, and I can see how it would as a) it’s something the project creator decided to add on their own, which shows dedication and responsibility and b) it also adds accountability to the project creator.

    From a project creator’s perspective, I love the idea of using a timeline because of those reasons I mentioned. But I also like this idea because I feel like it would keep me focused and organized. I like having a visual, and breaking up sections of my project into chunks. It’s sort of like the format for a blog, breaking it into smaller sections keeps the reader focused (in this case it would be the project creator).

    I also wonder if there are any project creators that have used a Gantt chart? I’m not sure if a Gantt chart would be necessary for backers to see or not, but they might be a good tool for project creators as there are often many overlapping pieces of a project to work on, and they can helpful in managing time.

  7. Mike: Thanks for sharing your perspective. I like the idea of these timelines keeping a creator focused and organized. I bet most creators have timelines somewhere among their files, but it adds a level of accountability when it’s public information.

    I can’t recall seeing a creator use a Gantt chart on a project page, but that would be a great visual!

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