On July 11, 2013, Planit launched a new website for the PBS KIDS Writers Contest that pushes the envelope from both a design and a development standpoint. The contest itself is an annual competition held nationally for kids in kindergarten through third grade who want to write and illustrate their own stories. PBS KIDS tasked Planit with reimagining the old Writers Contest website, which served and continues to serve as the community hub for the contest, giving kids the opportunity to find out more information about the contest, read stories from years past, and contribute their own creative energy. Through innovative design solutions and the addition of an interactive Story Creations section to the website, Planit created a way to keep kids engaged with the website year round, even after the contest ended.
The redesigned and redeveloped site maximizes user engagement and discovery by featuring fun, relevant design that inspires, entertains, and engages with its young audience. The site now serves as an educational tool used in classrooms and at home as a way to inspire creativity and encourage writing among kids. Planit did all the custom illustrations on the site and created a “best of the best” of all the existing artwork from the kids’ stories. One of the new features of the website includes a Story Creation section. Here kids can build their own storybooks using provided assets as well as their own drawing and writing tools, providing a fun experience for children with varying reading and writing skill levels. The long-term plan for this section is to continuously add new assets and educational features that will teach kids basic writing concepts like plot and characters.
What is unique about the website is that it serves as a springboard for teaching kids about community and purpose with their online interactions. It teaches kids to have more meaningful interactions in online communities. Rather than simply “liking” a story written and illustrated by another child, users can provide more constructive feedback by sharing what they enjoyed most about each story.