Peer Reviewing Project Pages, Part I
When Craighton Berman’s class of 18 design students all launched projects on Kickstarter a few weeks ago, we huddled around and scrolled through each one with excitement.
Looking over these projects, we were also really impressed by how much feedback the students left each other through the preview tool. Being the inquiring minds that we are, we wanted to know more about the class’s process around leaving feedback for one another and what they learned from that peer-review experience. We asked them about the criteria they looked for in a project page and what elements they thought were absolutely essential.
I tended to focus on the copy: was it clear? Did it reflect their project and communicate their personalities? It’s easy for us as design students to get caught up in the photos and video, but the copy is just as important in getting people to believe in your idea.
There needs to be a balance of in-context shots and more studio-like shots on a project page. If your project is something completely new, people might need help in imagining your idea in their world. Additionally, it’s important to highlight your design as a beautiful object all on its own, if that’s relevant to it. Clean shots with good lighting are essential.
Sharing my draft with my classmates was incredibly valuable. It’s so important to get another pair of eyes (or 18) to look at your idea. Getting the opinion of someone that’s not in your thought bubble is necessary so you know what’s missing, what could be communicated better, and what’s working well.
Having 18 people that can answer my questions about issues and speculations is a unique position to be in, especially while using a platform that lends itself to independent creators. We have made a diverse range of products, yet we all face similar issues and have the same goal in mind. This makes it easy to relate to each other, cheer each other on, and celebrate each other’s successes or keep up morale when anyone encounters difficulties. The community this class has formed is something that is not as readily available to those who are launching a project on their own, but is extremely helpful for a first-time run on Kickstarter. This experience is something that I will continue to refer to during my future endeavors.
That being said, a huge part of learning about Kickstarter was through trial and error. I really believe that it is essential to have well lit, clean photographs and gifs (lots of gifs), as well as simple text that communicates what you absolutely need it to. The story should be told and supported through imagery and motion, people are drawn to things that look beautiful — including a campaign page. I also think that there is such a thing as too much on a page. It’s really about keeping it concise in every way possible, as well as consistently appealing throughout.
Looking at everyone’s page, I was mostly searching for gaps in the story. I think it’s very important to have a coherent novel on the page and sometimes we get caught up in showing a few aspects of a product and forget to tie everything together. Each page should explain why something exists, as well as clearly display how it exists in the world so that people can really get a sense of how they would use the product.
I think that giving the class feedback was a great system of practicing what you preach. If I’m going to suggest to a classmate that something should be changed or reassessed on their page, then I should probably do the same for my own. It helped me look at my own page more objectively.
Personally, my approach was to look for areas that I thought could use improvement. I chose my words carefully and tried to encourage change where I thought there might be room for it. I was on a mission, I was going to be honest with my classmates because I wanted them to succeed. A compliment might feel good, and I did give them compliments where deserved, but criticism is what helps you grow.
After collecting feedback from everyone who was gracious enough to leave it, we compiled lists of everything people critiqued. At this point it was our turn to have time for personal reflection. But just because someone provides feedback doesn’t mean you will or should change it. Things that I believed should stay the same did, and things that I noticed being critiqued often and across other projects were considered.
The support from the classroom setting we were all lucky to be placed into was incredible. I hope that when the time comes, and we are all getting ready to launch our next big ideas through Kickstarter, we will once again look to each other for guidance. Most of these people I have known for the past couple of years, but having a common journey and goal brought us that much more closer to one another.