It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Branding & Web Application

NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program

Brand Identity / Web Application

National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo, as its millions of participants know it – is the best project-based writing community for young people, both in and out of classrooms, and K-12 educators. However, they have been so focused on getting kids writing that their brand’s visual identity and platform’s UX/UI needed to be redesigned for the next generation of young authors.

Brand Strategy
Brand Identity + Visual Language
Information Architecture
User Experience
Web Application Design
Website Redesign
Educational Technology

Discovering a Worldwide Phenomena

Our mission was to create an experience that improved upon NaNoWriMo’s already stellar reputation and modernized the user experience. Our discovery phase began with independent research, and ended with written user personas and use cases, identifying and describing the student and educator users in detail. A site map allowed us to hone the users’ task flows and models, illuminating user efficiencies and intuitive pathways.

DELIVERABLES INCLUDED:  Independent Research, User Persona and Use Case Documents

Designing the Visual Language

The brand is driven by imagination – we were inspired to imagine a logo that embodies adventure and unbridled possibility, while reminding users that they were participating in a program of growing tradition. An illustrative approach allowed us to borrow and update the viking helmet from the branding of NaNoWriMo Past, while supplemental iconography for challenges, achievement awards and other events that are part of the YWP experience gave us room to expand on the playful visual style.

DELIVERABLES INCLUDED:  Logo Mark, Typography, Colors, Supportive Illustrated Elements, General Visual Style, Guideline and Usage Documentation.

Crafting the User Experience

At this point in our work, we had established a deep understanding of the user and NaNoWriMo brand. This knowledge allowed us to make clear, intuitive UX design decisions, and apply those decisions in a comprehensive redesign of the web application and informational website that surrounds it.

The result of this final phase of work is a platform that is as user-friendly and intuitive as it is powerful. YWP users overwhelmingly participate in NaNoWriMo on their mobile devices – the new YWP web application is responsively coded, for the first time bringing the power of desktop word processing to the hands of a user holding an iPhone. With limited screen-space, it was crucial that we design a logical, consistent experience that imparts clarity and a strong sense of control.

DELIVERABLES INCLUDED:  Development-ready, Responsive Web Application and Website Design


“Armchair’s energetic engagement, their ability to patiently listen, their deep design wisdom, their creative chutzpah — and their overall gusto (yes, we had fun working with them) were essential in accomplishing our mission. We're an organization focused on helping people to aim higher, realize their creative potential, and have fun doing so. Armchair embraced that mission in each stage of the design process.”