Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life. From artwork to camping gear to tabletop games, anything that feels like it’s missing from the world. Their research team works to understand creators and backers and how best to empower and serve them, help spread awareness, and build an audience for respective creative projects. Their research, design, and product teams work extremely closely to conduct concept and product testing.
Before using Dovetail, research at Kickstarter was scattered across Google Drive folders and different platforms, making it incredibly challenging to find data for researchers. This limited the life of the data itself because nobody could discover or rediscover the relevant information when needed. Often teams would be halfway through a project and realize similar research that could’ve informed the current project or even rendered it unnecessary had already been done by a member who’d departed.
With Dovetail, Kickstarter centralized all its research into one powerful and searchable tool. Now, when getting to the bottom of a customer problem, they’ve got a bank of insights at their fingertips, and the first step of the process is to look for historical reports and build on existing work. In some cases, dozens of pieces uncovered meant the team could progress without designing an entirely new study. At Kickstarter, they’re building a rich and constantly growing repository of raw data and reports in Dovetail that compounds in value and means the team never has to repeat work.
At Kickstarter, there was no standard for sharing out research, and it was difficult to bring stakeholders into the process or engage them with long reports. Scheduling a large presentation was the only method to gain a lot of attention, but it was incredibly time-consuming. Only a limited number of people were aware of some research findings, and they weren’t always those who would benefit most from the information. Research was conducted, ingested, and forgotten.
Kickstarter’s research is now readily accessible in Dovetail, making it easy for stakeholders to self-serve relevant findings. Because everything is interlinked and structured, stakeholders have the option to take in the high-level key insights or dig deeper and listen directly from the participants themselves. Readers found the blog-style format of the reports more digestible, transparent, and fun.
With Dovetail, employees share research independently of explicit efforts to circulate it. Small clips of customers can go viral in the organization, driving empathy across the company and creating greater research interest and buy-in. Before adopting Dovetail, people were eager for research and user feedback, but results were rarely shared or discussed. Within the first 18 months of implementing Dovetail, their research team of 3 has shared 106 reports—more than one a week—driving hundreds of views of highlights and customer videos and sparking discussion across Slack and team meetings.
Kickstarter’s research process was spread across multiple platforms, tools, and spreadsheets. It required manual note-taking and tagging, which was often too disorganized, complex, and technical for people who could otherwise contribute. As the function wasn’t fully mature yet, the lack of formal research background meant there was no standard process, no one organizing or guiding discussions, and no technical oversight. This risked decisions being subject to bias or based on invalid data. Dovetail provided a simple solution to streamline the research process and made it easy to onboard and elevate their research craft.
With Dovetail, Kickstarter was able to automate manual tasks like transcription and speed up other tasks like grouping and finding themes. The structured workflow cultivated more direction on how to tag and extract quality insights. Now there’s an intuitive, speedy, and organized tool that new starters find easy to learn and follow, empowering them to contribute from day one. Kickstarter has found the tool encourages the team to conduct richer and more reliable research than they would without it. Dovetail legitimizes the work being done and builds more confidence in the health of Kickstarter’s research programs.