Cooperative Design the Kickstarter Way

What makes Kickstarter’s game-like core experience & path to mastery so compelling?

Tip #1: A strong vision helps you say “no”

When Kickstarter began to gain traction and visibility, there were many opportunities to align with celebrities and add “exclusive benefits” to the platform. But Kickstarter was founded on a strong vision of creating a level playing field for artists and creators to “test the waters” and get their projects off the ground. So they said “no” to many lucrative sponsorship & ad placement opportunities — and instead, grew into the leading platform for creators of all kinds.

Tip #2: Engage your customers & make them smarter with a strong Learning Loop

A Learning Loop is a repeatable, pleasurable experience that helps your customer get better at something. Games are filled with Learning Loops — and so are compelling products.

  • You discover an intriguing campaign on social media, and follow the link
  • You watch the video, check out the rewards, browse through the community messages, and decide to donate to the campaign
  • Then — right when you’ve put skin in the game — you’re prompted to share your story and help the campaign get funded.
  • So you write a social media post — and the cycle continues all over again.
  • Then you follow the campaign… checking the stats, reading the updates — and do what you can to help it succeed.

Tip #3: Reward mastery with tools, powers & opportunities

Kickstarter is resolutely open to first-time campaigners — that goes back to their core mission and reason for existence. Kickstarter offers many resources to help campaigners succeed — but at the end of the day, it’s all about making a great video and mobilizing your community into action.

Tip 4: Use cooperative stats to build group identity

Like Slack, Kickstarter struggled internally with the temptation to juice competition with zero-sum mechanics and head-to-head competitions. And like Slack, Kickstarter largely resisted that urge, and built an environment where each campaign is competing with the system to get funded by the deadline.

Tip 5: Use spotlights — NOT leaderboards — to highlight excellence

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Game designer, startup coach, author, entrepreneur

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