A subsidiary of the largest youth writing network in the US, 826 Digital champions student writing by providing engaging, adaptable, and standard-based resources — designed to captivate young writers.
826 Digital is an education-led brand that empowers young minds to become confident and creative writers by facilitating digital resources for both writers and educators.
The initiative emerged from the broader work of 826 National, a nonprofit organization founded by author Dave Eggers, known for its unique approach to education and creative writing. The origins of “826” National can be traced back to its first writing and tutoring center, 826 Valencia, which opened in San Francisco in 2002.
826 Digital, as an extension of the 826 National organization, developed as a response to the changing educational landscape and the increasing use of technology in education. It was created to provide online resources and tools to support young writers, educators, and students in developing their writing skills, thus extending the reach and impact of 826 National’s mission beyond its physical locations. It offers a range of online tools, writing prompts, and resources that can be used by teachers, students, and writers to enhance their writing skills and creativity. 826 Digital’s online platform allows young writers to submit their work for publication and engage with a broader audience.
Across a period of 6 months, the SimplePlan team redesigned the 826 Digital website improving its user journey and reach while enhancing the design to express the brand’s energy more fully.
Since its addition to the 826 Network, 826 Digital rapidly gained recognition and a burgeoning community of users across the country. However, as the years rolled by, the website’s interface fell behind which also affected the user experience on the site. The team at 826 Digital highlighted 4 areas of improvement for the new iteration of the website: low on-site engagement, bulky navigation, unavailability of search, and lengthy onboarding process. 826 Digital x SimplePlan partnership was devised in order to overcome these challenges and broaden and deepen the user interaction with the website.
826 Digital embarked on a journey of transformation with the realization that a revamped online presence was imperative. This transformation aimed to elevate the user experience and ensure the website remained aligned with the evolving needs of its growing community.
An effective branding for an education-led NGO would be, without question, one that conveys the purpose and the intended impact of an organization in a manner that best serves the people it is looking out to help. The essence of such a brand identity is rooted in its core narrative and the community it seeks to reach.
Through expertise, dedication, commitment to deliver the best results, and a deeply empathetic understanding of user behavior, SimplePlan successfully translated the brand’s offering into an accessible and visually engaging website experience.
The first question that arose was the degree of the revamp that the website needed. Through heuristic evaluation and an effort impact matrix, it was realized that a complete UI/UX overhaul of the platform was needed. This was later validated when the new version of the platform saw a more than 500% increase in user sign-ups.
We charted how the users would feel as they interacted with the website and ensured that the experience was nothing but amazing, every single time. For the wireframes, we deployed the best UX practices to make sure the users get what they desire from each page on the platform.
Three major changes to the website’s UX that empowered the website’s unprecedented post-revamp results are the resource library, search bar, and simplified onboarding. A common resource library was built on the platform that helped make content discovery more seamless and intuitive. It solved two challenges, low on-site engagement, and bulky navigation. Secondly, the lack of search on the old website was painful for the users. This was remedied in the new iteration by the addition of a search bar that enhanced user accessibility to all resources. Lastly, the previously lengthy onboarding process was optimized to reduce user exhaustion. The process was broken down into multiple steps with positive feedback touchpoints through the usage of stepper intuitive input fields, and best gestalt practices.
As for the visual design, the old 826 Digital seemed a bit behind the times. A major goal of the platform overhaul was also to inject energy and vigor into the look and feel of the website. In collaboration with 826’s branding team, the UI team updated the visual aesthetic of the website to exhibit a fun, modern, and vibrant look. It also incorporated the new branding in view of the revamp and hence, broadened the site’s appeal through its interface. The colors that were used for the child-centric website were cobalt, golden, and red in standard and lighter shades, to give an optimistic and vibrant feel without sensorily overloading the user.
Self-expression is how you realize your identity and also how you assert it to the world. 826 has a proven record of dedication and a fresh yet fundamental approach toward empowering future citizens. 826 Digital is driven by making this help and resources accessible to all.
The website’s greatest achievement is to have enabled the brand to reach its audience, amplify the 826 narrative, and facilitate easy access to resources.