Written by Philip Lester

@dreamtenphil

When you’re building a new game, product or idea from scratch, you know to sweat the small stuff as you make your vision a reality. But when it’s time to take your concept to the crowdfunding stage, it’s too easy to rush and throw that attention to detail out the window in all the excitement. Taking additional care and effort can grab users’ attention as they browse or search for something new and interesting.

Design & Layout

Your Project Image (aka Your Thumbnail)
It’s not enough to just look at campaigns in your category and do something similar. You’ll never stand out that way. Instead I suggest looking at a different medium that has perfected the thumbnail; YouTube. Channels on that site spend a good amount of time perfecting thumbnails to be irresistibly clickable, and there are some lessons you can apply to your campaign.

  1. Text: Have your project name big and bold on the thumbnail. Ensure anyone scrolling can read and remember it. Build that brand recognition.

  2. Image: Don’t pull a still from your pitch video. It will be too low-res and blurry. If you are pitching a product, use a professional photo of your prototype. Don’t just shoot it on white, though. Show it in context. If you’re pitching some cool new kitchen gadget, I want to see it in the kitchen doing its thing. If you are pitching a game, or an art/design project, your thumbnail should be designed in the same art style that defines your project. You can get creative, too. If your game is set in a haunted forest, take your prototype into the woods and photograph it on a bed of leaves.

You can also change your thumbnail throughout the course of the campaign, so experiment and try something different every few days to see what gets the most clicks.

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Designing Your Pledge Levels
It’s not enough anymore to simply let your reward tiers sit on the right-hand column and hope potential backers figure it out. This is especially true if your campaign has multiple pledge tiers with unique rewards. An at-a-glance graphic that visually tells backers what they get at each tier makes it easy to envision exactly what they are putting their money down for.

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Visualizing Your Timeline
Just like with your pledge levels, if your project is planning on taking a multi-step journey from fabrication to fulfillment, visualizing your timeline can help tentative backers understand the process better.

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As an added bonus, a visual timeline is a fantastic tool to revisit every time you hit a milestone. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as checking an item off the list, and backers can quickly keep track of your pace while they wait to receive their reward.

Messaging

Project Name / Title
Your product/idea name + five or six words that tell backers what it is (limited to 60 characters). “A science fiction short film,” “A cooperative fantasy board game,” “A connected coffee maker.” Have an eye for search terms, here. If someone searches “short film” or “sci-fi” that first project will pop up. This also helps people spread the word, without having to regurgitate your entire campaign page to friends. “Oh, it’s a minimalist wallet.” It’s okay (even preferred) to paint with a broad brush here, the goal is to clearly say what it is and get them to click through.

Your Goal
Before you get into the details of your pitch, you need to have a clear, concise elevator pitch. Think of it this way; If your product was sitting on a retail shelf, what would be on the box? The easiest format to start with is “A _______ for ______.” Tell backers what it is and who would most benefit from it. “A party game for horrible people” is one of the all-time greats. It’s descriptive but also just mysterious enough that makes me want to know more.

Once you have that down, you can expand on it with a little more real-estate. Give yourself three or four sentences to explain the ultimate pitch for your idea or the problem your product solves.

Take Amabrush, one of Kickstarter’s most-funded campaigns (and one of CrowdOx’s partners):

Let's face it: brushing your teeth is not exactly the sexiest thing on Earth. You have to squeeze, scrub, gargle, spit, rinse and floss every morning and evening, every day of your life. Many of us hate brushing our teeth so much that we avoid doing so whenever possible—even though we know we shouldn’t... Brushing our teeth at least twice a day maintains good dental health. This is why we invented Amabrush—a device three years in the making with a single goal: to make toothbrushing quicker, automatic, and more efficient so you have more time for the relevant things in your life.

It presents a clear, obvious problem. Dental health is important, but it’s a pain in the butt. They smartly use bolded terms to call out to people who don’t have time to read in depth.

It doesn’t have to be a product with such lofty goals. Look at Exploding Kittens, the card game by The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman and game designer Elan Lee:

Exploding Kittens is a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck.

The game gets more and more intense with each card you draw because fewer cards left in the deck means a greater chance of drawing the kitten and exploding in a fiery ball of feline hyperbole.

Notice that even though the game seems ridiculous, they take the time to explain the mechanics of the game in fairly plain terms. Even if you love The Oatmeal, you need to know if it is a game you would want to play. This page is also a great example of many of the design elements I discussed above. They did almost everything right.

As you build your campaign page, remember to keep a keen eye on the details, just as you do your actual project. Little things add up to a more polished, professional crowdfunded page that brings more backers into the fold.

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CrowdOx is pledge manager software that lets Kickstarter and Indiegogo project creators send surveys that increase funding and verify backer orders.
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