Our Road Map for NaNoWriMo

We’re so excited to get the engine running for our next big adventure: the first significant redesign of NaNoWriMo in 10 years. And though we’re excited to travel off the beaten path and explore unanticipated sights, we know that every journey starts with a solid road map.

Where We Want to Go

Our vision: a website that better serves you, and better serves our mission: to help people find their voices, achieve their creative goals, and build a better world on and off the page.


What We’ve Done So Far

September 2016: We successfully launched the Young Writers Program site you helped us build during our last major fundraising campaign!

Thanks to your support, the new YWP site helped students and educators write 56,035 novels last November, a jump of more than 41% from 2015!

A screenshot of the new YWP site's homepage.

February 2017: We officially began our exploratory phase for a NaNoWriMo.org redesign. Staffers came together to share what they’d seen and heard from our participants, volunteers, and board members—and to contribute what they thought was most important to create a website that will support NaNoWriMo’s mission more effectively for years to come.

IDEO's logoMarch 30, 2017: We took a trip to the IDEO offices to get a crash course in design-thinking, and learned some neat new methods to get to know our community even better. Why? So we can discover what exactly we need to build to help you succeed in your creative goals. 

April 20, 2017: Our amazing board members Buster Benson (Slack), Julie Russell (Medium), and Michael Sippey (Twitter/Talkshow) led us through a “design sprint”, where we got to dream big, brainstorm wildly, and ultimately, put together an initial vision of what our updated website might look like.

Board member Buster Benson and staffers Dave, Katharine and Shelby brainstorm with post-its.

May 2017: Our attention went fully to you. We spent the month talking to volunteers, participants, and writers of all stripes to learn more about what your creative lives look like, and how NaNoWriMo fits in. We also asked for your ideas so that we can make sure we’re dreaming the same dream.

June 2017: We launched the Great NaNoWriMo Road Trip drive to build the organizational capacity to bring that dream to life. As we fundraised, we also asked for more participant feedback to better shape our shared vision.

The Great NaNoWriMo Road Trip banner features a VW van with the NaNoWriMo Viking helmet on the side, driving through a forest landscape.

July 2017: After a stunningly successful Road Trip drive, we dove into the nuts and bolts of a new NaNoWriMo site—exploring and scoping the features that will amp up your creativity (and our shared sense of community) in the years ahead.

August 2017: We spent the month reviewing all of the feedback from y’all we’d gathered so far: taking all the raw materials from our interviews with volunteers, experts in the field, and, most importantly, you, to finalize a vision for our website. Our main priorities?

  1. To help you set and achieve all of your novel-writing goals, from the most ambitious to the smaller day-to-day achievements,
  2. to finally make NaNoWriMo a fully year-round website,
  3. to make the website even easier to use on phones and tablets, and
  4. to reach more groups to continue growing the diversity of our community of writers.

September 2017 It’s the team-building phase! We interviewed amazing design teams and learned so much about how thoughtful design can help us achieve the goals we built around y’all’s feedback. After a long process, we were thrilled to join hands with Tamara, Sinan, BJ, and Sean over at Studio Simpatico. Check them out here.

Studio Simpatico's logo, which includes illustrations of founders Tamara Olson and Sinan Imre.
October 2017 The Studio Simpatico team came to NaNo HQ to officially kick off the design process, and find out more about our programs, our creative-writing mission, and the incredible writers who form our community. We hit the ground running and…

November 2017 …while NaNoWriMo 2017 was in full swing, we finalized our blueprint (also known as the wireframes) for the new NaNo site, making sure we knew where every nut and bolt was going to go. Our goal? Building an incredible home for our much loved writing community.

December 2017 We found more partners! The team at Accessible 360 will help us ensure we build a website accessible to all writers. And the developers at 201 Created will be working with our own tech team (hey, Dave and Jez!) to build the engine that will make this website run.

January 2018 Of course, the work was still continuing with Studio Simpatico! We focused on the look and feel of the new website, and had long conversations about the NaNoWriMo logo, Viking helmets, and the exact hue of “NaNo blue.”

We had even longer conversations about which stats will motivate you to finish your novels, how we can help you discover NaNo events near you at a glance, and how we can represent the full spectrum of our community on the site.

May 2018 Studio Simpatico submitted their final designs, and we were super excited to have a finalized vision for what our new site will look like! We think you’ll love it.

July 2018 We wrapped up our partnership with 201 Created. Our tech team left feeling more empowered, more educated, and more excited to build a site that would have legs and power the NaNoWriMo community for years to come.

August 2018 Development continues as we work hard to execute on our ambitious plans! Our tech team of two, Jezra and Dave, strive mightily… (also Dave gets married!)

What Happens Next: A note from our executive director

Dear Writer,

For the last year, we’ve been hard at work rebuilding our NaNoWriMo website.

First, the good news: the new site’s design and functionality are amazing. It will not only improve your experience during November; it will support your creative endeavors year-round with a suite of tools to keep you writing. Think: enhanced trackers, snazzy new graphs, and an augmented resource library. You’ll also be able to engage with your writing community via new forums, online writing groups, and a robust buddy system—plus many other things to help you realize your creative dreams!

We’re happy about the progress of the site development, but I need to share some less-than-optimal (but not necessarily bad) news. We had hoped to launch this fantastic new website in time for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. As with most ambitious technology endeavors, we’ve had to wrangle with a number of challenges… And we just couldn’t face them down in time to launch the site you and your novel deserve this November.

We’ve made the decision to delay the launch until January 2019 in order to give you a site that is thoroughly tested, revised, and ready for primetime.

So what happens now?

In order to ensure that this year goes smoothly—and that participants, volunteers, and staff have time to adjust to the new tools—we’ll host National Novel Writing Month 2018 on our current site.

We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on, partner with you to get your feedback, and give our team more time to deliver a smoothly functioning site when we launch in 2019.

Thank you again! This new website is a huge step forward for our nonprofit and our shared writing community. I appreciate your patience as we refine our initial draft to make sure we’re delivering a site that meets your expectations, supports your writing journey, and (hopefully!) delights you.

Please email us if you have any thoughts, feedback, or questions. We always want to hear from you.

With much gratitude,

Grant Faulkner
Executive Director