17 July 2013
I realized recently that despite posts about the project video, reward levels, stretch goals, and explaining why you need Kickstarter funds, I’ve never written a comprehensive post about the makings of a great Kickstarter page. I’ll break it down into bite-size chunks.
The Top 3 Project Page Mistakes
- Too much text. This usually falls into two categories: One, the balance between text and images is off. For every section of text, there should be an accompanying image to balance it out. Two, the text is in big chunks, which is very difficult to read online. Most people encounter a big chunk of text and either skip it or skim it. No paragraph should be longer than 3 lines, and each item of a bulleted list should be no longer than 2 lines.
- Bad art and design. People only get one first impression of your project page. If that impression is of bad, placeholder, prototype art and design, they aren’t going to back your project. You’re probably on Kickstarter so you can raise the money to afford good art and design, but you need to spend something up front to have a few eye-catching, appealing images to give backers an idea of the quality and style of the project.
- Poorly written/constructed reward levels. Backers need to be able to quickly and easily find what they want. They need to be able to tell the difference between reward levels at a quick glance. If your reward level is more than 8 lines long, you’re doing it wrong (I’m guilty of this too). Reward levels should be clear, concise, and non-repetitive. List the most important/unique aspect at the beginning of each reward level’s description. If every reward level gets the same thing, you don’t need to say it over and over again. Either mention it on the project page or on the first reward level.
- Share your passion and personality. Your project page should be clear and succinct, but it doesn’t need to be dry. Give your project page a human side by adding small personal touches and flourishes, but don’t tell backers how they should feel about the project. Let them decide on their own. I’m sure you’ve seen this on project pages. “This will be the best book you’ll ever read!” or “This is the most fun you’ll ever have playing a game!” There’s a difference between enthusiasm for your project and projection. Let backers figure out for themselves how they feel about your project.
- Put the best selling points at the top of the page. What is the most effective pitch for your project? Is it a really compelling image? The huge number of components? Something unique among Kickstarter projects (like free shipping or a money-back guarantee)? A great third-party review? A new game mechanic? Whatever it is, it should be at the top of your project page. And then the second best selling point should be next. And so on. You may not even know the best selling point, so make sure to get feedback on this. Your top selling point may change over the course of the project, so feel free to shift things around.
- Only put what’s necessary on the main page. Sure, you want all the core questions answered up front on the project page–backers shouldn’t have to hunt around for shipping subtleties and why you’re on Kickstarter. But you have several resources at your disposal for linking to ancillary information elsewhere: The FAQ, your blog/website, and your project updates. Xia did a great job with this by listing the project updates on the main page (the titles of each one help you find what you’re looking for). Nanobot Battle Arena also did this in an interesting way by posting mutliple updates immediately after launching the project and linking to each one of those updates to give backers the scoop on shipping, badges, reviews, etc. The only downside of doing that is that you can’t edit project updates (but you can always post new updates and link to them).
Visual Aspects of a Project Page
- Spectacular Project Image. If you’re going to spend money on art before a project (which you should), this is one of the key places where it’s needed. The project image is used at the top of the page–it’s what you see when you’re not watching the video. It’s also used as the project thumbnail. It should be distinctive, iconic, and attractive. You can change it over the course of the project (you might want to use this space for special announcements), but keep the core image the same. If it’s for a tabletop game, I would recommend using an image of the box (a 3D render or a photo). As one of our ambassadors, Craig Moore, says, “Seeing a box makes it feel more like a real tabletop game.”
- Infographics. Infographics are often much better at explaining concepts than long lists. For example, instead of showing what’s in the box, show it on an infographic (there can be text on the infographic). Or if your project has a concept that would take paragraphs to explain, use an infographic. Soberdough does that quite effectively (see image on right). You should still enable backers to search the page for certain words by typing out those words (i.e., “shipping”).
- Use a mix of real photos and digital renderings. Digital renderings often look sharper than photos of your prototype, but I’ve found that photos of games often look better than their digital counterparts. I think part of an actual photo is that a backer gets a feeling for the tangible aspect of the reward–“That’s something I’ll have in my house someday.”
- Landscape-ify images. If you put an image on your Kickstarter page, it will fill up the entire main column. Image width isn’t an issue, but if an image is too tall, it’ll take up too much precious real estate. Cut down the height in an image editor so it has a 3:1 width to height ratio. You can see some examples of this on Euphoria (some, not all, of our images were cut down to that ratio).
- Illustrated headers. Custom illustrated headers are much more thematic and visually compelling than standard text images. They’ll take a lot more work, but they’re worth it. I always like TMG’s custom headers–see Dungeon Roll for a good example.
- No step-by-step reward level graphic. I’ve changed my stance on this since Viticulture. More often than not, this image is completely redundant. Backers know what it means to get two copies of a game–they don’t need an image to explain that to them. If you really feel the need to do it, Mars Needs Mechanics has a very compelling reward level graphic.
Core Components that Every Project Page Needs
- Description: The three lines under the project video should tell backers exactly what the project is.
- What’s in the box: Tell backers what they’re getting. Use an infographic.
- Third-party reviews: Tell backers what unbiased professionals think about your project.
- What’s unique: Give 3-5 reasons your project is different from anything anyone has ever seen. If it’s a board game, link to the rules (having the rules ready before the project begins for a board game project is imperative. It’s okay if they’re in Word. They just need to be written).
- Explanatory video: Give backers an in-depth look at your project (much deeper than the 2-minute project video allows).
- Why pledge now: List a few compelling reasons why backers should support you now on Kickstarter, including why you need the funds to make the project a reality.
- Stretch goals: List a few stretch goals to compel people to share your project. You can add more as the project continues to overfund.
- Add-ons: People need to know how they can add multiple copies to their pledge (among other add-ons, which I recommend limiting to items that can be included in the game box by the manufacturer).
- Risks and Challenges: Be real in this section. By giving examples of what could go wrong, you show that you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about.
The Inside Scoop
There are a few things you won’t realize about the project page until you actually start to make one (which I highly recommend you do–anyone can start building a page at any time) or until it’s too late. Here’s the inside scoop:
- The preview link to your project page will automatically forward to your final campaign page when you go live.
- You can’t create an FAQ before the campaign begins, so type out questions you anticipate before the project so you can create the FAQ the minute you launch.
- You can revise the project page during and after the approval process before you launch, and any time during the campaign.
- You cannot revise the project page after the campaign is over.
- The “Risks and Challenges” section is mandatory–it’s part of the project page template. It’s text only.
Examples of Great Project Pages
Are there any project pages that you think are brilliantly crafted or have a compelling element we can all learn from?