Understanding the project description template

Every project listed on Kickstarter has a project description filled in as per the standard Kickstarter template. In addition to the description, you will also find information on the rewards offered, as well as information on the project creator.

Key takeaways

  • Carefully review the project description template to ensure you understand the product, who the project creator is and what rewards are offered.
  • Read the Updates tab and Comments tab in addition to the project description to see how the project creator communicates with backers and what backers have to say about the project.

The project description template

The project description is completed via a standard template provided by the crowdfunding platform, such as Kickstarter. The Kickstarter template contains the following sections:

  • a video or picture by the creator to introduce the project to you;
  • a description section, including what the product/service is, features, how to use it, how the idea came about, and reasons why you should buy it. Depending on the stage of the manufacture, the description may display diagrams, prototypes, a beta version of the product or, rarely, the finished product;
  • a rewards section, detailing the rewards, for example for board games, this section typically includes posters showing the game components and extras per reward level;
  • a stretch goals section, detailing how the core product offered is envisaged to be improved if the funding reaches determined stretch levels.
  • an additional description section typically featuring videos for product reviews, how to use the product, explaining the manufacturing process;
  • a risks and challenges section that is a text-based description of the risks and challenges as perceived by the project creator. The project creator can also detail business continuity plans, in the event something goes wrong;
  • a FAQ section, where backers can ask questions to the project creator.

Pledge and Rewards description

You will typically find on the right side of the template the pledges and commensurate rewards tiers. The rewards and pledges could also be further explained in the actual project description.

As a backer, pay careful attention to the words used by the project creator when he talks about the rewards and pledges. In general, if there are rewards offered for pledges, then the transaction is sale; there are some instances that the project creator can classify as gifts, namely donations from backers. If the project creator uses the word “gifts” in the project description and offers “rewards”, be very wary as the underlying transaction is not clear. I analyse rewards and pledges in another post.

What doesn’t work on the existing project description template?

Overall, the project description template is text heavy, supported by some photos or diagrams or videos of the product / service.

This template can, and is, difficult to read, and I have often lost interest in a project that I was initially keen to back as from first impressions. The main reasons why I lost interest are:

  • no clear indication of what the project is all about – yes, this happens!
  • no clear indication what I would actually get for my pledge;
  • poor quality of videos or photos;
  • text-heavy descriptions;
  • descriptions that are too emotive – everyone launching a project on Kickstart has a dream or vision, not just you, so what is your differentiator?;
  • a vague description of risks and challenges, and how these would be addressed. Sentences such as “I can deliver to you because I have used e-Bay” or “I have some supply chain experience therefore shipping and logistics are all organised” do not instill confidence in the project creator’s ability to deliver;
  • if the “reward” levels that are not commensurate with the actual rewards, for example $10 as an initial backer to receive project updates, $50 for a general t-shirt with a thank you, $20 for a PDF only of your graphic novel.

What makes a good project description?

So, what makes a good project description? The projects I backed have these commonalities in their project description:

  • the layout and thinking behind the project description indicates a professional approach to the idea, and accordingly, the business. You can immediately see if the project creator has thought about converting his idea into an experience for the backers, and ultimately, a business;
  • the description is thematic, especially for games. This means that my experience as a backer starts from the very first video and paragraph.  I am immediately immersed into the gaming world and the project creator has my buy-in;
  • the use of videos and photos instead of heavy text paragraphs;
  • the project creator actively updates the project page and engages with his backers, for example comments and updates are shared, the graphics are updated, the text is updated.

The project description is not the only consideration for me when backing a project; I look for key items in the project description, analyse the actual product / service and rate the project creator.

The Updates and Comments tab

Make sure that once you have read the project description, that you also review any published updates and comments posted. This will give you additional insight into the project, the project creator and the backer community for this project.